Test Reporting Like a Bad Food Critic

Imagine you’re a food critic. You go to a restaurant and eat three courses; your review the next day says simply:

“I did not get food poisoning.”

Off to another restaurant, where your review says:

“Potatoes were overdone; fish was too salty.”

One more restaurant, one more review:

“The apple pie was served cold when the menu said it was warm.”

All these reviews are factual, but they only mention the negative things that the critic found. Was there anything good about the food? Did the critic have one, two, or more courses? All that’s mentioned is the negative aspect of one dish.

Testing can be like this. If all you report is the bugs that you found, things can feel very negative. The only positive result can be, “No news is good news” if no bugs are reported.

To counter this, add some positive observations to your test reports. For example, “Setting up a new classroom seemed easy and slick”, or, “Being able to sort the columns was a nice touch.” Bugs can be defined as “something that bugs the user,” so take note of your emotions as you are testing. If anything makes you happy or gives you a wow moment, note that as well. (Doing this is also a good way to confuse the developers you are working with. Now when they see you walking toward them, they won’t know if they are going to get good or bad news…)

As you’re compiling your “review,” you can also think about effective ways to communicate what you find. A simple dashboard (e.g. a basic grid) is a good way to show how many courses you sampled—or which areas you have tested. You can color code it to indicate good areas, problem areas, and blank sections for areas not tested. The project lead can then see at a glance what testing has been done, where the problem areas lie, and what remains to be done.

This dashboard can also be used at the start of testing. Discuss with the team which areas have the highest risk. Note them in the grid, and plan for testing to hit those areas first.

A diet consisting solely of bugs can be monotonous, so be sure to change things up in your test reporting.