Exploratory Testing a Long-Running Project? Switch it Up

I’m working on a couple of long-running projects at the moment. One advantage of this situation is that I’m really familiar with the projects and all of the interactions and states they can be in. One small disadvantage is that it’s easy to fall into routines when testing.

What do I mean by routines? I mean that I’ll end up following the same paths, entering the same data, and clicking the same buttons to get to the new features and functionality.

I need to intentionally switch it up so I can spot problems I may not have noticed before. Here are six things I do to keep my interest piqued and unearth existing issues on my way to the new stuff.

  1. Phone Settings – Change some of your phone settings (e.g., increase the text size, go into Dark Mode) before launching the app. It’s likely that you’ll be testing these anyway, but this means you’ll do it all the way through and not just on the new screens.
  2. Keyboard vs. Mouse Navigation – If you usually use a mouse or trackpad, try navigating through the app to the new features using only the keyboard (including dismissing any dialogs that might appear). If you’re a keyboard person, use the trackpad.
  3. Cancel – Every time you’re presented with a dialog, cancel it and check that you’re not stuck in a dead end.
  4. Go Back – On Android and web browsers, try the back button. If the app has a back button, use it. Are there any problems? If you had inputs on the previous page, are they still there?
  5. Window Size – If it’s a web app, start with a small window and resize it as you work through the screens. Or start big and get smaller.
  6. Rotation – Rotate the device into landscape mode as you go along. If your app supports rotation, does it look okay? If your app doesn’t, does it ignore the rotation properly?

Practices like these can keep you engaged and help you notice the small things that creep into an app over time. They’ll also highlight anything that got overlooked in initial testing before you had a full understanding of the app.

Do you have any practices to keep the routine away? Please share them in the comments.