Time to Party! Celebrating Our Brand New Office in Silicon Valley

Working at a start-up is kind of like having kids. You get excited about every new milestone like a proud parent, even though you know it’s not the first time any of it has ever happened in history. This time it’s yours. Your child. Your company.

For parents, new milestones usually mean posting a select, few pictures to Facebook (give or take 50) of an an event like your child sitting up for the first time. Perched like a top-heavy teddy bear, staring wide-eyed at the camera and being photographed with adoration from many, many…many angles.

For uTest, it usually means hitting the local pub and celebrating together with a pint or two (give or take).

But this milestone was special. Our company, headquartered outside of Boston, opened up our first office in Silicon Valley. Exciting stuff for our founding members and newcomers alike! Granted, with so many recurring clients out here in the Bay Area, uTest has had a West Coast team for over a year, incubating in the Sunnyvale Plug & Play Tech Center.

But to keep up with demand, we’ve expanded pretty fast and definitely outgrew the nest. So now we have a space of our own in bustling downtown San Mateo, one block from the Cal Train and smack dab in the middle of a ton of great restaurants and shops.

What better way to celebrate the milestone and break in our new digs than throw a party! With our CEO Doron Reuveni and the executive team in town, that’s exactly what we did.

Living by the quote of our CMO Matt Johnston– “We take our work seriously, but not ourselves”– we spent a warm summer night celebrating with about 75 of our investors, customers, partners, new neighbors (the good folks at Attributor), new and old friends in the industry, the Chamber of Commerce…and even Mayor Jack Matthews.  Sushi, drinks, and music in the company of some of the Valley’s smartest, funniest, and most fascinating people. It doesn’t get better than this.

In fact, we’re already thinking about throwing another party in a few months for the many who couldn’t make it to this one.  Who knows…we may have a whole new milestone to celebrate.  And cleared space on our camera.

Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

Do Functional Testers Make Good Usability Testers?

Would you trust a plumber to design and decorate the interior of your new home? How about an auto mechanic to paint your car? Or a dermatologist to perform your root canal? If you answered no to any of these questions, then I would argue just as strongly that functional testers should not be handling usability testing for your software.

To be absolutely clear, there are some talented functional testers who are gifted in usability testing as well. However, this is typically the exception. The point of this blog post is not to minimize these exceptions, but rather to highlight the differences between these two testing types and point to the necessity of having one set of experts test your software for functionality, and another set of experts test for usability.

So why do we need separate experts? Here are several noteworthy observations:

  • Different fields of study: In general, usability testing experts come from non-technical fields of study – psychology, cognitive science, human behavior, marketing, etc.
  • Different skills required: In general, functional testers have more in common with engineers and scientists while usability testers have more in common with artists and psychologists
  • Different focus: In general, functional testers focus on “how can I break this” whereas usability testers focus on “how intuitive is this for the end customer”
  • Different persona: In general, functional testers do not need to fully understand how an end user would use the software whereas the usability tester needs to study and emulate end users
  • Different departments in the workplace: In general, usability testing lives in the product management and marketing department while functional testing lives in the engineering department

Given these differences, in particular regarding fields of study and skill sets, I would recommend against entrusting your usability testing to the typical functional tester (the opposite is true as well – entrusting your functional testing to the typical usability tester could be disastrous). There is a particular art and science to usability testing that requires an entirely different approach and mindset. So from a company’s perspective, it’s best to separate these roles and recognize their distinct value propositions.

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Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

Uruguay Launches Collegiate Software Testing Program

The Uruguay IT Chamber has launched a new university program for software testing.  This is big news for the world of software testing, as it not only legitimizes the professional tester but will help draw attention (and projects) to the importance of testing.

TestingReflections.com has a nice write up on the news release, but it’s particularly interesting to see that there are three tiers of testing, as follows:

Software Tester: The ideal program for entry-level, junior, and career-switching software testers.  Successfully completing this credential will give you the knowledge and experience most employers expect from testers with 1-2 years of on-the-job experience – effectively enabling you to start your career needing only to acclimate to the specific expectations of the employer and demonstrate your skills at work before being acknowledged as a mid-level tester.

Software Testing Professional: For testers with several years of testing experience on-the-job who are looking to make the jump from mid- to senior-level, this program is designed to teach high-quality individual contributors how to be effective technical leaders within their testing organization.  Effectively giving the tester the new skills they need, in addition to their existing hands-on testing knowledge, to prepare them for the additional responsibilities of a technical testing manager or of a manager of small to mid-sized testing projects.

Software Testing Leader: This final step in the program has been designed for senior-level testers who desire to be successful managers or directors of corporate testing programs.  Frequently the most challenging step for career software testers is to transition from being a technical leader to a management role focused on the interface between quality testing and executive-level business value.  Successful completion of this stage of the program will give the student the tools they need to make the jump from technical leader to manager – opening the door to further advancement to positions like “Director of Testing Services” or “VP of Software Product Quality”.

Full article after the break.

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Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

The Silver Lining to Motorola’s Comments on Android

Over the past week, there’s been some hub bub over comments made by Motorola’s CEO Sanjay Jha.  According to IDG News Service, Jha “blamed the open Android app store for performance issues on some phones,” based on his statement: “Of all the Motorola Android devices that are returned, 70 percent come back because applications affect performance.”

Even though Motorola formally stated today (see MoCoNews article) that Jha’s comments were essentially misconstrued and didn’t accurately reflect his intentions, the issue has remained a lightning rod for debate.

But for those of us in the software testing community, there’s a truly, positive message embedded in this issue:  Motorola was validating the critical importance of QA testing in the app development process.  

After all, consider Jha’s statement that, “one of the good and problematic things about Android is that it’s very very open. So anyone can put applications, third-party apps, on the market without any testing process….For power consumption, CPU utilization, some of those things, those applications are not tested. We’re beginning to understand the impact that has.”

For professional software testers, that confirms how important our work is, and actually suggests that the scope of mobile testing should be expanded.

Essentially, Jha wasn’t really referring to functional testing.  Or testing exclusively in the “clean and ideal” conditions of a lab environment.  Instead, he was describing the need for usability testing in the real-world to subjectively examine how apps and devices perform in live conditions and affect the user experience.  For instance, did the app run sluggishly?   Did it seriously tax the battery life?  These are vital questions, particularly for apps heavy on audio and video. 

At the end of the day, consumers are unlikely to differentiate whether their frustration over poor performance is caused by the smartphone or the app…or the interaction of both.  They just want to have a great experience with their new mobile “toy” or get their work done. 

Because if there isn’t enough testing on every device that the app is developed for, then (as Jha said) the smartphone gets returned and everyone– including the app publisher–loses out.

Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing

Test Your Web Apps – Express for Web

Two months ago, we announced uTest Express – an easy and affordable way for startups and young companies to test mobile apps. So far, it’s been a huge success, and today we’re pleased to announce a big update: uTest Express for Web. Now you can quickly and easily have your web application or web site tested by a team of professional testers under real-world conditions.

Like the mobile version, Express for Web helps you validate your app by providing you with both bugs and feedback from real people testing on real computers. With Express for Web, we’ll make sure there’s a sold cross-section of today’s most popular browsers and operating systems to give you a good feel for how your app or site behaves in today’s complicated browser landscape.

So how much does this awesome testing cost? Well, plans start at $499, but to celebrate the launch of Express for Web we’re discounting prices for the Bronze and Silver packages by 50%. Between now and the end of June, you can have your web or mobile app tested for as low as $249.

So what do you get for that amount? Well how about access to handpicked members of the uTest community from North America who best match your testing requirements. Web testers will be armed with a wide variety of browsers while mobile testers will test your app on real devices using real carriers. In both cases, your app is tested professionally by real people who provide real-world testing results and expert feedback that isn’t possible with emulators, simulators or remote access.

At the conclusion of each project, you’ll receive a list of well-documented bugs, including screenshots and videos with steps to reproduce them. You’ll also receive expert feedback from the testers about the application – including app ratings and feedback for interface design, usability, app performance and more. To learn more about how it works, watch this brief Product Tour.

Here are a few key features of the service:

  • Cost-Effective: With three testing packages available, uTest Express offers mobile and web app testing to fit any startup budget;
  • Easy-to-Use: A simple interface walks customers through a series of questions to identify their testing needs and facilitate the creation of the testing project;
  • Professional Testers: Testers are selected from our community of 35,000+ professional testers;
  • Accessible 24/7: Customers can access their testing projects on-the-go, using uTest’s downloadable app for the iPhone and iPad, or through the traditional browser-based interface.

So if you need iPhone app testing, Android app testing, iPad app testing, web app testing, and more, check out uTest Express.

Essential Guide to Mobile App Testing