3 Ways to Give Directions to Exploratory Testers Who Are Working from Home

All developers at Atomic do testing, but I have the specialized role of “exploratory tester.” I use my knowledge and experience to find any gaps that the makers missed during their testing. I’m often working on several projects at once, so I need to focus my testing on the most critical areas of an application.

To identify the most critical areas, I talk with the developers. Ideally, this means in-person meetings where they walk me through their work while I take notes. This doesn’t always happen, but it’s our goal. We also use Slack for communicating details and asking/answering questions.

Unfortunately, we’re all working from home right now (and will likely continue to do so for several months). Here are a few alternatives we’ve found to help us cope.

1. Detailed Instructions in the Ticket

The developer can give testing instructions — which environment, special user roles to test, what data to use, etc. — within the ticket itself. The ticket can also indicate which areas are in and out of scope for testing. This will keep me from wasting time looking into areas that haven’t been fully addressed yet.

2. Slack or Zoom Call

It’s pretty easy to hop on a call with the developer, do some screen sharing, and walk through the areas to be tested. The disadvantage is that, unless you take good notes during the call (which can be hard when you’re focusing on the conversation), there’s nothing to refer back to.

3. Hints in the App

On one of my projects, the developers embed testing tips and hints within the app. Here’s one example:

Email Verification Screen with Comment

Here’s another:

Log-in Screen with Comment
One of my hobbies is taking wildlife pictures, so the team included this chipmunk.

This approach could also be used in usability testing or prototyping. If you want a customer to take a look through the app, use tips to tell them which areas to look at and which to avoid.


What strategies do you use to communicate with your testers?