How to Find the Right Testers for Your Software Program
There’s a lot that goes into successful software deployment. Before the actual launch, you need to ensure that everything is functioning properly, security vulnerabilities are addressed and bugs are eliminated. Otherwise, the quality of your end product can be compromised and the user experience can suffer. One of the most effective ways to go about this is through rigorous software testing.
This is where a team is assembled to test and analyse a program on every possible level and identify glitches. From there, necessary actions can be taken to resolve issues and optimise the program.
The results for most developers are overwhelmingly positive. There’s just one question.
How do you find the right testers for your software program?
Here are some factors to consider and criteria to use when assembling a team.
Determine Your Target Audience
Your first order of business is to pinpoint your precise target audience. This is essential.
Ideally, you’ll select a pool of testers that mirrors the end users of your software program. These individuals should have a similar mindset, needs and objectives.
If there are any question marks as to whom your specific target audience is, here are a few ways to clarify things:
- Create personas – HubSpot defines personas as, “a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customer.” This will allow you to condense the collective characteristics of end users.
- Perform market research – Google Trends and Quantcast can be helpful for this.
- Examine Google Analytics – You can use data to learn more about your core audience, their behaviour, preferences, etc.
Once you’ve determined who your target audience is, the process of selecting testers becomes much easier. Before you give a potential candidate the greenlight, be sure that they’re part of your target audience.
Identify Main Objectives
Software testing is a wide umbrella. The precise goals can vary significantly from company to company.
It’s imperative to identify your main objectives and focus on them because this will dictate which aspects of your software you want testers to focus on. For instance, you may be primarily interested in usability where you want to ensure that your software is user-friendly and has intuitive navigation.
Or your emphasis may be on security where you want to eliminate risks such as data theft, denial of service and so on for the end user. This is especially important because fewer than 4 out of 10 applications pass security policy requirements on initial assessment.
Even worse, approximately 97 percent of Java applications have a component with at least one known vulnerability.
Your main objectives will influence the types of users you would want to recruit, their background, experience and expertise. For the best results, be sure that anyone you bring on board has direct experience testing the area(s) you’re focusing on.
Approximately 97 percent of Java applications have a component with at least one known vulnerability.
Look for Objectivity
One trap that some developers fall into, especially during beta testing, is recruiting friends, family or employees.
Let’s face it. It’s quick, cheap and easy to test with participants like these. However, this is unlikely to provide you with the results you’re really looking for.
These individuals are often biased and may lack the experience needed to truly dissect your software program on a granular level. Generally speaking, these are people you should avoid.
Instead, look for testers who are completely objective and capable of providing feedback that’s 100% unbiased. These individuals should genuinely represent your true target audience and won’t be afraid of breaking the user experience down piece by piece.
This greatly increases your odds of generating comprehensive data and in-depth insights you can use to optimise your software program.
Look for an Attention to Detail
Sometimes the bugs and glitches that create the biggest problems are the ones that aren’t immediately obvious. It often takes some serious sifting to pinpoint problem areas and ultimately enhance the user experience.
This is important to remember when choosing testers because you really want to look for individuals that have a close attention to detail. They should be meticulous in their approach and leave no stone unturned.
Fortunately, this is an attribute that’s fairly easy to assess. Just look at the test applications and check for spelling and grammatical errors.
While you can’t say for sure that every great software tester is a world-class speller and grammar wizard, you could make the argument that blatant errors on a test applications serves as grounds for disqualification.
If anything, they’re a red flag for a person’s level of professionalism.
Look for Genuine Interest
When it comes to passion, there can be a huge disparity between testers. Some are simply in it for a quick paycheck, while others have genuine enthusiasm for the process and want to contribute.
The latter are the types of testers that you want on your team. They’re more likely to go the extra mile and examine all of the “nooks and crannies” of your program.
How do you gauge interest? Look for applicants who are eager to get into your beta test and quick to respond. If they have experience testing or working in your niche, that’s another sign of keen interest.
Consider Testing Platforms
Your software is likely to be run on a variety of different platforms such as a desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone. Of course, there can be multiple variations of these devices with different operating systems.
To gain the best possible perspective on your software’s usability, functionality and security, you’ll need participants to test it on as many platforms as possible.
Be sure to inquire into the devices and operating systems that will be used on the testing application. Ideally, you’ll choose candidates who use a wide variety of them because this translates into the most comprehensive data and will be critical for working out all of the kinks prior to launch.
How do you guarantee that you’re recruiting quality testers? You ask them to meet certain qualifications, and choose vetted testers from your testing provider.
Emily Hossellman offers some great advice on this subject:
“The easiest/best way to do this is with a qualification survey. The survey will give you valuable information about their demographics as well as how they’ll behave as a beta tester. If you’re trying to determine whether they’ll give in-depth feedback, include optional, open-ended questions in your survey.”
The logic here is that a one or two word response means they probably won’t provide you with the detailed feedback you need, and that person should be disqualified. However, a detailed response with multiple paragraphs typically shows a real interest in your software and is most likely someone you would want to bring on board.
In order to guarantee quality feedback, you need to be selective and ensure that you’re upholding fairly high standards.
Have Alternates on Standby
It’s important to account for unforeseen setbacks and curveballs during testing. One of the worst scenarios that can occur is having an integral tester suddenly drop out.
This can happen for multiple reasons such as the inability to make the time commitment or personal reasons. Regardless of why, this inevitably leaves you shorthanded.
This puts you in a difficult position, and your testing can suffer as a result.
You can save yourself a lot of stress and anxiety by having a small pool of applicants on standby in case you lose one of your initial testers. You’ll have an immediate replacement and sustain momentum.
An added advantage is that you always have the option of quickly bringing on more testers if need be. This can be a huge asset if you need to extend testing.
If you don’t have the time or know-how to handle software testing yourself, there’s always the option of crowdsourced testing. This is an incredibly efficient and cost-effective way to go about testing and allows you to quickly obtain tangible results.
A company will work with you to assess your unique needs and then leverage their extensive network of qualified, diverse testers to diagnose glitches, bugs, flaws or vulnerabilities. Testing can even be done on over 50 devices to ensure a seamless user experience across the board.
Software testing has arguably never been more important than it is today. With so many industries being saturated with immense competition, you need to do everything possible to eliminate issues pre-deployment.
Security in particular is an issue that many companies are dealing with.
A UBM Tech for HPE’s research found 45% of organisations plan to spend more on application security in the next 12 months.
However, there’s more involved in selecting testers than you might think. You need to make sure that you’re choosing participants that are representative of end users, fully understand your objectives and meet key testing criteria.
Because finding participants that possess objectivity, have an attention to detail and a genuine passion for the process is difficult, many software developers are turning to crowdsourced testing to ensure efficient and effective testing gets done.
Once testing is complete, you can make any necessary adjustments and accelerate your software’s time-to-market.