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Exploratory Testing in Startups (Feedback is Gold)

Everybody in the QA field knows that in this fast-changing world automation has long been the most popular and the most important method of testing. 

Why?

Well, for starters, automation allows you to avoid the manual, repetitive tasks that must be done every day as part of regression testing. 

Still, with automated testing you only can see if the test “passes” or “fails”, but nothing about the user journey

And that’s where exploratory testing comes into play.

Exploratory testing uncovers things that cannot be noticed via scripted tests. With exploratory testing, we can learn things like:

  • Is the user is happy with the flow? 
  • Is the user able to find things easily? 
  • Does the user understand what is happening? 

So, adding exploratory testing into the QA strategy has been the perfect method to cover the gaps that automation leaves. 

This article is intended to show how exploratory testing was adopted in our company and demonstrate the way that its influence has grown, not only within the QA team but among all Zyro people.

About Zyro

Zyro is an incredibly fast-growing startup where new features are released every day. 

Often those features are released as MVPs (minimum viable product), which means that we review the released features, check how they fit in relation to the full product, and identify areas that need to be improved in the next (often instant) iteration. 

So in short: every iteration that is developed is based on feedback. 

That feedback could be obtained from any Zyro team member: a developer, the marketing team, a CS agent, HR, or anyone who has good ideas to offer for improvements.

Zyro also has a strongly value-driven culture. 

One of the most important values that we have as a company and believe in is customer obsession. 

One of the functions of QA is to be advocates for our end users, and exploratory testing is a perfect tool to step into our customer’s shoes. 

In doing so, we can explore how new features fit into the big picture or if old ones still are in place. Also, we are able to check and ensure that our product is user-friendly, functional, and intuitive.

Typically, testing is considered to be the QA team’s responsibility. But, when we talk about exploratory testing – the more “eyes” we have, the more feedback from different angles we will get.  

As Elisabeth Hendrickson wrote in her book Explore it: “Programmers, business analysts, and anyone else with an interest in shipping a quality product have a hand in exploring”.

Based on that, exploratory testing at Zyro became a company-wide activity. The whole team is encouraged to participate in testing sessions with guidance from the QA team. 

Honestly, sessions were so eye-opening that they still play a big role when it comes to deciding on new and old flows and feature testing.

How exploratory testing works

At this stage, you might be wondering what those sessions look like? 

So, let me share a checklist of advice on how to perform a successful exploratory testing session:

  • Everyone in the company should be introduced to the exploratory testing topic. What is it and how does it differ from other types of testing like ad-hoc testing? What value does it bring and how can we perform these tests correctly?
  • Prepare a logging sheet to write down steps, bugs, insights (there are lots of examples on Google and you will only need to adapt the logging sheet template a little bit for your individual needs)
  • Every participant should have a persona/role. You can think about a typical user persona for your product, or just create your own personas. The idea is to get as much feedback as possible by exploring the product from different angles.
  • Every person should get their least-known area to explore in order to avoid biases.
  • There should be some time dedicated for reflection to talk about findings and insight after every testing session.
  • All feedback should be summarized and shared with the team in order to initiate improvements.

There were a lot of areas that improved after exploratory sessions were implemented at Zyro. 

Small fixes and changes were made in many cases but in some cases, the whole flow was reworked. No matter the outcomes, the goal of improving the user journey stayed the same. 

At Zyro, we feel that this testing approach is powerful and brings value. It helps to improve the quality of our product by making it more mature.

Final thoughts

Neither test automation, nor exploratory testing alone can cover all angles, but by combining them both we have arrived at the most effective solution that we can currently think of.  

For startups like Zyro, it is very important to get feedback on product quality. 

Exploratory testing here is the best tool that we have so far and by performing exploratory sessions, we get instant feedback that allows us to iterate and improve and evolve and grow our product. 

So yes, feedback truly is gold and exploratory testing is the perfect tool to mine it.

Written by

Author avatar

Greta Alisauskiene

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