Test in-situ

I'm a huge fan of doing in-situ testing; which basically means test in the environment your site/application will be used in.

Defining the "in-situ" environment could be a challenge for some people as a growing demographic of people, in a multitude of environments, may use their products.

If you are testing public kiosk software - does it work as expected in a crowded, noisy and bright public area? It may work in the test lab but out on the streets are you seeing the same thing?

Does your mobile app work when the person using the phone is stood at a bus stop, late at night, with rain coming in sideways at them?

How to test in-situ
Try to define some common "in-situ" environments and test your app in them. Planning a series of scenarios can be a good idea. In these scenarios describe the context the users would find themselves in, such as “busy office", “loud and busy railway station", “quiet room" etc. These scenarios will help you to understand where and why people are using your products.

I have a friend who is working on some cool marine navigation tools. He tests on a boat in the ocean when possible; there’s no substitute for the real environment.

Another friend tests medical equipment, they stage fake operations complete with blood, noise and full medical attire. Gives him a whole new perspective on everything when he’s back in the office.

Useful Hint
Defining personas isn’t just the preserve of Designers and Usability experts; it’s also a fabulous idea for generating test ideas too.

Useful Links
In Situ on Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_situ

Blatant self-promotion link to Social Tester site - http://thesocialtester.co.uk/theres-method-in-the-madness/

If you’re interested in a career in Software Testing then check out my book Remaining Relevant And Employable (Tester’s Edition) - it’s packed full of ideas about writing good CVs, communicating your value to employers and doing well in an interview.