How do you know what to test?

This is an interesting topic to me because I’ve seen variations of it asked on quite a few occasions, and in different contexts. I sometimes wonder whether people are just looking for new ideas and inspiration to keep expanding on what they already do, or if they really just don’t know what to test. To me, it often feels instinctual, obvious, implicit, and I need to remember that this isn’t always the case for everyone. For the record, that doesn’t make anyone better or worse.

So… There’s a lot of ways I know what to test, or methods I use to find out. Here are just some of the ones I can think of right now.

When given something to test, how do you know what to test?

  • Experience as a tester
  • Experience as a user
  • Curiosity for what features, buttons, gestures, etc. might do
  • Knowledge of other bugs or common pitfalls, either in this software, this platform, similar products, my own usage habits, etc.

What guides you along the way?

  • Experience
  • Instinct
  • Curiosity
  • Documentation (official, user stories, bugs, acceptance criteria, project contract, etc.)
  • Claims
  • Assumptions
  • Other people (dev, PO, BA, designer, marketer, user, other testers, etc.)

What resources do you refer to to help?

  • Product documentation
  • User stories / bugs
  • Company / product mission statement, goals, elevator pitch
  • Marketing, support pages
  • Mnemonics and heuristics
  • Cheat sheets
  • Google!! (SQL injection, scripts, status codes, etc.)
  • My own blogs (sounds conceited, but sometimes I suddenly remember that I’ve dealt with something before and dropped nuggets of wisdom that I can refer back to)
  • Strategies, presentations, resources I’ve prepared or used for previous projects

Who do you go to for support?

  • Dev, PO, BA, designer, marketer, other testers, etc.
  • Testing community (people I know, Twitter, Slack)
  • Colleagues not on the project

So many thingzz!! I hope no one gets discouraged by experience helping so much. This isn’t to say that if you don’t know what to do now, you’re gonna miss a bunch of stuff - it’s more about taking lessons, tips, tricks, reminders, from everything you do and carrying that on into the future. Just because it was a previous project or three years ago, it doesn’t mean it’s not still relevant. Everything you do should help to build up your experience if you reflect, process and extract in the right way.

Reflect, process, extract… I like that! Maybe I’ll write a blog on that to remind my future self :wink: