Thoughts of a new(ish) Software tester


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Personas

Rather than testing in the same way every time it can be a good idea to use the product in the way a certain type of person would.  For example, use a website as someone who only uses the keyboard to navigate, so all actions have to be done without the use of a mouse.  Or as someone who always changes their mind, so keep using the back button to revisit pages.  The first is likely to reveal accessibility/usability issues and the second could reveal innaproproate caching issues.

I realised the other day that if you can fully get into character then you can really experience and act out how certain users would feel using a product and thus reveal flaws or bugs which you otherwise might not discover.

What follows is a description of my findings when I adopted a persona to test a website without even realising it.

Last Tuesday I wanted to order 2 pizzas from Pizza Hut for my wife and I and I wanted to do it as soon as possible, in whatever way possible, and as cheaply as possible.  I was very hungry and when I’m hungry my patience is severely reduced and any small frustrations are magnified.
So I wanted to get my order in as quickly and easily as possible.  Was Pizza Hut online going to be up to the challenge?

So the first thing I did was Google Pizza Hut.  Up came a link to the Pizza Hut menu. Clicking this took me to a menu for all their pizzas which seemed like a good start.  However, although I wanted Pizza fast I also wanted a good price and that meant getting the best deal I could.  On the page there was no clear indication of any offers available.  I didn’t know where to find the deals so I gave up (remember, I was not in the mood to spend time searching around) and clicked on the ‘Order Pizza’ button, this took me to a page to select whether I want to Order for Delivery or Order for Collection.  I chose delivery and selected the delivery time.  Then I was taken to a page where I could select DEALS, Pizzas, Sides and Dips and Desserts and Drinks.  Why did I have to get this far before I could find out that any Deals were even on offer??  So I clicked on Deals where I was presented with 11 different deals, including Buy 1 get 1 half price, £21.99 Medium Super Saver – 2 medium pizzas and 2 sides, £25.99 Medium Full Works for 2 medium pizzas, 2 classic sides, 2 desserts and 1 drink, Two’sday Tuesday – Buy one pizza get one free.  Luckily for me, and for Pizza Hut, it was a Tuesday so I could get the best deal of 2 pizzas for the price of one.

So I chose a large Stuffed Crust Cajun chicken Sizzler for myself.  This showed the Total cost of £17.49 in the ‘Your Order’ section of the screen.  I then ordered a large Stuffed Crust Super Supreme at £19.49 for my wife.  The only problem was the total for my order now showed as £36.98  ‘How much??’ I said out loud, ‘Where’s my 2 for 1 deal gone?’  ‘You’ve just told me I’m getting a 2 for 1 deal and now where has it gone??’  Maybe I’d pressed the wrong button or missed something so I pressed the browser back button a couple of times.  I was hoping this would take me back to the page where I could restart my order and empty my basket.  I was back at the menu page but my basket still showed £36.98!  ‘How do I empty my basket!!’  By this point I was really getting annoyed and losing the will to live so I clicked the Checkout button below my basket total.  This took me to another page where miraculously my deal was taking effect and a -£17.49 showed that I would only be paying for 1 pizza.  ‘Why couldn’t they give me a clue I was doing the right thing on the previous page??’

Anyway, from here I managed to pay with my debit card with no disasters and my pizza even arrived on time.

From a testing point of view I found the 3 issues below:

Caching my choices and keeping them in my basket
Back button did not take me back to the original page
Price with offer was not shown until checkout button pressed

I’m not sure if any of these would be classed as a bug but it depends who’s definition you use.  I would include Cem Kaner’s definition of a bug as ‘something that would bug someone that matters’, i.e. the customers.

The number of customers these issues bug and the financial impact associated with potential loss of sales is probably the more important question.  Also, does the cost of fixing these issues outweigh the financial gain of keeping the sales?  Product managers are the ones paid to answer these sorts of questions but they are interesting nonetheless.

In conclusion I found it very interesting looking back on the persona I had briefly adopted.  It really changed the way I approached the website, which on another less hungry day, would have caused me no angst at all. More importantly it would possibly not have lead to me noticing any or as many issues with the way the site worked.  I will aim to think up other personas for future use with my testing because, as demonstrated here, it will help find new and interesting software quirks which could otherwise be overlooked.