How to report technical issues to your development team

 

There are two ways to write error-free programs; only the third one works. (Alan J. Perlis)

 

Your computer’s software was written by some of the smartest minds in the world. Yet, it has bugs. Errors. Security holes. That’s why your computer prompts you  to update all the time- new patches and fixes are introduced to take care of bugs that are uncovered.

Websites are compromised of software, as well. And just like computers, they can have bugs that affect their performance or usability. But how are bugs discovered and patched?

Uncovering the bugs

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When code for a website is written, it goes through a QA (quality assurance) process by the development team. This means someone is performing each task on the site – adding a product to the cart, going through checkout, writing a review, etc – and ensuring that it’s working as expected. QA will also cover testing on different screen sizes and browsers. A great number of bugs – especially showstoppers that prevent core features from working at all – are found during this phase. This means that the majority of issues never make it to the live server.

However, some bugs manage to get past QA. There’s a multitude of different tests that can be tried during the QA process, but bugs can be discovered when something new or different is attempted. Here’s a short list of things that can affect websites:

Technical

  • Screen size
  • Operating system
  • Browser (Chrome, Internet Explorer, FireFox, etc) & version number
  • Internet connection speed
  • Device (desktop vs tablet vs mobile)
  • Too much traffic at the same time

Procedural

  • Numbers that are too long or too short
  • Text that has unexpected special characters
  • Pressing buttons in an unexpected order
  • Uploading something that’s too big or the wrong size

The list above could go on forever. Some bugs affect all users (ever try to access a website and it’s down completely?) while others may affect only one specific user.

Reporting a bug

 

“The website doesn’t work at all!”

 

This phrase is commonplace is the website development world, but it’s only true 1% of the time. If a website doesn’t load any pages on any computer, that’s the only time it’s accurate. For the other 99% of the time, more information is needed.

There’s three core parts of reporting a bug:

  1. What steps you took prior to running into the bug
  2. What you expected to happen
  3. What actually happened

Including technical information (what device and browser you used) and screenshots with this information is a big plus and helps your development team solve the issue sooner. No one will ever complain about receiving too much information about a bug’s circumstances – ever.

In it together

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Understanding that bugs are an inevitable part of software, be kind in your reporting. It’s nearly impossible for a developer to fix a bug that they can’t replicate, so the sooner they can see the bug, the sooner it’ll be fixed. While the bugs you uncover may affect your business temporarily or stop you from accomplishing your tasks, flinging insults or yelling will not get you closer to a resolution faster. Your development team wants your website to succeed – be in it together!

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