The One Forgotten Act of Exploratory Testing

January, 3rd 2017Simon Tomes

There's a perception that testing always delivers bad news. During an exploratory testing session we tend to spend a lot of time raising problems. But what about appreciating all the good things we discover? There's a huge opportunity to be more grateful – to share the joy of unscripted, goal-driven and documented discovery.

A product development team works tirelessly to build meaningful products. Individuals need feedback. Those who test might not take on such responsibility but it doesn't have to be that way.

In this post I share the one thing we often forget to do during an exploratory testing session: document and share praise. I emphasise why this act of kindness benefits our development teams.

Appreciate others

It's easy to get caught up in our own world – our own thoughts and opinions about what is right and wrong about a product. There's a place for capturing problems and sharing ideas.

It helps to appreciate what's in front of us instead of always looking for what isn't right. Take a moment to step into the shoes of someone else when exploring, not only the user but the person who contributed to the item you're exploring.

Capture praise whilst note taking. Share the praise during an exploratory testing session debrief. For example:

"I'm impressed how you've considered email validation on the email form. It feels super clear what a user has to do if they make a mistake. Nice one!".

"This is so testable. It's super clear what endpoints are available. I can easily understand activity in the logs. Thanks for making this API simple to test.".

"The share icon on this mockup is super clear. I love how all icons sync up with each other. I think this will make it easier for our users to understand the basic navigation of our app.".

"I'm excited about this feature. I think our users are gonna love it!".

Experience pleasant thoughts and feelings and build better products

While team members might feel surprised by the high volume of positive feedback, it might also surprise you. Something magical happens to us when we're kind. When we do things for other people it makes us feel good. After a while there's a sense of calm, warmth and spaciousness. It becomes easier to be kinder to ourselves and thus to others.

Appreciation has the potential to spread amongst a team. A team who is kind to themselves and each other is adept in communication. That sort of unwritten connection amongst team members leads to incredible products.

Document and share praise

We will build incredible products by discovering problems, asking questions and sharing ideas. But doing so without fostering appreciation limits the opportunity.

Grateful people build great relationships. Relationships are the foundation of inspirational team-work and leadership.

Giving praise is a gift. A gift to the recipient and a gift to the giver. Document and share praise to build better products and lead a more fulfilled life.

Take the praise challenge

Time box your next exploratory testing session. Define a goal and start the timer. Document praise and nothing else. Resist the incredible urge to capture problems, questions and ideas. Surprise yourself and others!

Over to you

How do you capture, document and share praise during/after an exploratory testing session? What's it like on the receiving end of documented praise? Have you tried the "praise challenge"? What happened? I'd love to get your thoughts, experiences and feedback!

Main image credit: Teresita Garit