Monthly Archives: August 2010

Which Browsers Do Your Customers Use?

Worldwide Browser Share

Worldwide Browser Share

What browsers do your customers use, and which browsers should you be testing?  One way to answer this question is to consult the several services that track browser usage, and design your testing strategy to match (for example, here, here, or here). These sites are free and are definitely better than pure guessing. These sites do have some good use, you can see trends over time.

However, a better way is to use analytics within your application, and find out the browser usage for your customer base. The actual usage by your customers will likely vary from the published sites. For example, on my project we currently have 1.8% of our users connecting with IE6. While NetMarketShare shows nearly 17% world wide usage.  We have a very different test strategy for a browser with 1.8% usage than one with 17%.

Analytics doesn’t have to be expensive. It may, in fact, be free.  Google Analytics is free to use, and provides a lot of data about your customers. Another free source of browser analytics is parsing the log files from your web server, aggregating the User Agent Strings.

Test for your customer, not a generic customer.

Testing Myopia

Horse and Buggy by Patrick Henson

Horse and Buggy by Patrick Henson

In school, marketing class. Concept of marketing myopia, where companies focus too much on the product they are currently producing. This near-sightedness keeps businesses from adapting to changing technology and market conditions. The classic example is the buggy whip manufacturing company.

The invention of the automobile is a threat to buggy whip producers, because the automobile technology will eliminate the need of buggy whips. If, instead, they see themselves as “transportation initiation” companies, then the automobile is an opportunity to serve a new set of customers, those who don’t want to hand crank their engines.

The idea behind marketing myopia is to take a step back, take a longer view of your product. A good way to do this is to think about what service you provide, rather than what product you produce.

What does this have to do with software testing and quality leadership?  Well, sometimes we get focused on our tools and processes. These tools of the trade are an important part of our craft, but the larger organization is not really looking for great automation suites, exploratory tests, or exit criteria. We talk about bug counts and severities. We talk about test pass/fail rates. We talk about code coverage.

Our product is testing, test results, and bug reports.

But, what service do we provide?  Why does the organization “purchase” testing?

Our organizations hire us to provide a service, that service is confidence. Confidence that our products will meet or exceed customer expectations. Confidence that our systems will be secure, available when needed, and perform as advertised.  Confidence that when its time to ship that the product is ready to ship.

How does taking a different look at our role influence what we do? What do we do differently if we are in the confidence business rather than the testing business?