What is Smoke Testing?

What is Smoke Testing (QA testers holding up app icons in front of an iPhone)
What is Smoke Testing?

Smoke testing is one of the most common terms in a QA vocabulary. It involves doing light (and often ad-hoc) tests of major features, typically right before or after a release. While smoke testing is one of the quickest and most basic forms of QA testing, it’s also one of the most important when time is tight.

To understand the purpose, it can be helpful to think of the phrase, “when there’s smoke, there’s fire.” A big part of smoke testing is keeping an eye out for red flags, which could indicate other instabilities in the software.

What is Smoke Testing (QA testers holding up app icons in front of an iPhone)Smoke Testing Examples

Ideally, a mobile app or website will have also gone through more rigorous testing in other QA phases. But smoke testing is used as a back-up, to be extra cautious, or when there’s not enough time for the ideal level of QA testing.

For example, say that you’re about to launch a new version of an app. It already passed QA, but you want some quick last-minute testing done before you publish to the App Store, just to be safe. If you ask QA to smoke test the login feature, they might check that logging in with valid credentials works. They would also likely verify that attempting to log in with an incorrect password brings up an error message.

However, with smoke testing, QA would not be nearly as thorough as other types of testing. Regression testing, on the other hand, would likely incorporate testing case sensitivity, switching between different users, etc. (Learn more about how to do regression testing.) Continue reading →

Jul 16

Mindful QA Founder Receives “Top 50 Tech Visionaries” Award

Top 50 Tech Visionaries (Wes Silverstein holding award)
Mindful QA Founder Receives “Top 50 Tech Visionaries” Award

Mindful QA founder Wes Silverstein received a “Top 50 Tech Visionaries” award from The Internet Conference. Intercon took place at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas from June 18th to June 20th, 2019.

Top 50 Tech Visionaries (Wes Silverstein holding award)What is the Internet Conference?

According to their official description, The Internet Conference (aka Intercon):

“brings together some of the biggest and brightest. As a result, it presents a snapshot of ideas shaping the future of internet technologies. Accordingly, our influential attendees and speakers comprise of industry leaders. Attendees are tech visionaries from a wide range of backgrounds.”

The three-day tech conference also included keynote sessions, panel discussions, speakers, networking events, and award ceremonies. In addition, the award ceremonies featured speeches by the “Top 50 Tech Visionaries” awardees, including Mindful QA founder Wes Silverstein. Continue reading →

What is Manual Testing?

Mobile App Testing Services
What is Manual Testing?

In the world of QA, automated testing is becoming more and more popular. This can be confusing to employers, who aren’t sure how much automated testing they need, and whether it can replace manual testing completely. Some aren’t even sure what manual testing is, or how it differs from automation.

The reality is that manual testing is the cornerstone of a good Agile QA process and should have a strong presence in any Engineering team.

What is Manual Testing (QA tester holding a mobile phone with app open)What is Manual Testing?

Manual testing involves manually performing actions on a mobile app or website, looking for bugs or other user experience issues.

For example, let’s say that you wanted to test whether a login feature in an iOS app was working. With manual testing, you would: Continue reading →

How to Be a Good QA Manager

How to Be a Good QA Manager: Communication (women at desk looking at laptop)
How to Be a Good QA Manager

QA testers are often managed by different roles. At some companies, the Engineering Manager is in charge of QA. At very small companies, it could be a Project Manager, or even the CEO. In the ideal scenario, a company will have a dedicated QA manager. But what can you expect from a QA manager, and how can you succeed in management yourself?

How to Be a Good QA Manager

Some aspects of being a good manager are universal, whether the people reporting to you are QA testers or not. However, the field of QA has unique conditions to consider. Even without very much experience, a QA manager can excel by following the right guidelines.

How to Be a Good QA Manager (three women sitting in front of a laptop discussing QA testing)Communication

As with any relationship, good communication is vital. Among other things, bad communication can result in poor process, missed bugs, and the exact type of issues that QA is supposed to prevent!

Some of the best ways to foster good communication as a QA manager: Continue reading →

5 Reasons Developers Shouldn’t Be Blamed for Bugs

Developer Communication (picture depicts two programmers discussing information in an office)
5 Reasons Developers Shouldn’t Be Blamed for Bugs

When problems appear in an app or website, for some people the first move is to blame the developer(s). Sure, it’s true that the developers wrote the code. But the reality is that bugs are rarely the fault of any one person or group. There are many reasons why developers shouldn’t always be blamed for bugs. A developer’s build could have a bug for many different reasons, including:

Between these explanations and the reasons below, it’s a good idea to think twice before defaulting blame to developers.

Why Developers Shouldn’t Always Be Blamed for Bugs

1. It’s counter-productive.Reasons Developers Shouldn't Be Blamed for Bugs (picture depicts a developer sitting in front of a laptop with their head in their hands)

Adding extra pressure is only going to make bugs more likely, as insecurity and nervousness interfere with focus. Of course, having some level of accountability is usually helpful (and reasonable). But there’s a difference between asking someone why certain bugs made it through vs. interrogating them with negative assumptions.  Continue reading →

Jira QA Workflow and Best Practices

SDLC Planning (ticket racking board with three people holding cards up against it)
Jira QA Workflow and Best Practices

When starting a new software development project, many companies choose to use Jira as their project tracking tool. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re familiar with it. While Jira can be a helpful tool for tracking progress, it’s beneficial to have best practices in place to pack the most punch. Find out how to optimize your Jira QA workflow below.

Jira QA Workflow

Jira board column types aren’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Different teams might find that different conventions work for them. (To learn more, see our article on the Agile QA process.) However, the options below show the typical range of columns followed in almost any Jira testing workflow.

Here are some examples of Jira columns:

Group 1 – the “All the Columns!” Approach

Backlog / Ready for Development / In Progress / Ready for Staging / Ready for Testing / In Testing / Reopened / Ready for Production / On Production / Testing on Production / Done

Jira QA Workflow (icon of a computer screen with columns titled "To Do," "Doing," and "Done" with colorful squares in each)Group 2 – the Basic Approach

New / In Progress / Ready for Testing / Done

As long as each column serves an effective purpose, it’s often helpful to lean towards the side of more columns. The more specific each column is, the easier it is for anyone on the team to immediately get a high-level status report with a quick glance at the Kanban board.

If you compare the groups above, you can see how the options in Group 1 provide a much clearer view into how far along a task is, versus the more bare bones approach of Group 2.

While it may seem overwhelming, it’s helpful to remember that tickets can be moved between columns with a quick drag of the mouse. As long as the team is disciplined about updating ticket statuses, detailed columns can be a huge asset to your Jira QA process.

Continue reading →

Mindful QA Joins the Carbon Neutral Business Movement

Carbon Neutral Business (cartoon showing a giant sun with clouds and leaves behind it, and solar panels in front of it. Crtoon men and women in business casual are talking in front of the solar panels and pointing at the sun)
Mindful QA Joins the Carbon Neutral Business Movement

We’re excited to announce that Mindful QA is officially a carbon neutral business! We purchased carbon offsets to balance our expected annual carbon emissions (and a little extra, to be safe).

In case you’re interested, we thought we’d share some details below about what carbon offsets are. We’ve also included information on how you can become a carbon neutral business, or buy carbon offset credits for yourself as an individual.

Carbon Neutral Business (cartoon showing a giant sun with clouds and leaves behind it, and solar panels in front of it. Crtoon men and women in business casual are talking in front of the solar panels and pointing at the sun)Why Did Mindful QA Decide to Become a Carbon Neutral Business?

When we started Mindful QA, we knew we wanted our business to be a force for good as much as possible. While companies exist to make money, we believe there’s room for spreading good along the way.

How Can Businesses Reduce Their Carbon Footprint?

Luckily, there are many options for businesses to be more environmentally friendly! If you’re curious, here are some of the other actions a business can take to help (or at least avoid harming) the environment:

  • Letting your staff work from home. Okay, so this is considered a pretty big ask by many companies. We get it. But if you have reliable, communicative workers, productivity can be even higher than in an office. (See our article on 10 Advantages of Hiring Remote Workers.) With tools like Slack and Zoom, it can feel like your workers are within 100 feet even if they’re really 1,000 miles away. And avoiding commute-related pollution can make a huge dent in your business’s carbon footprint.
  • Getting energy-efficient web servers. Data centers now cause even more greenhouse gas emissions than airplanes. If you have your own data center, you can read some tips on making it more eco-friendly here. Otherwise, you can research web hosts that offer greener server options and see what feels right for you.
  • Conserving electricity in the office. There are many little (and big) things you can do to reduce your office’s electricity use. For example, this comprehensive list offers dozens of options. On top of being better for the environment, making some of these changes will also save you money!
  • Donating to environmental organizations. We donate 10% of our profits to non-profits and causes, including organizations focused on environmental conservation.

What Are Carbon Offsets?

Carbon offsets go towards projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Continue reading →

What is User Experience?

App Bug
What is User Experience?

User Experience: image depicts person's arms, one (with pink and purple nail polish) holding a beverage, and the other holding a phone with an app openUser experience. You’ve probably heard the term many times, but it’s often used in different ways. Whether you’ve worked in tech for 20 years or just downloaded your first mobile app, user experience (or “UX”) can have a big impact on your day-to-day life. Let’s talk about what exactly “user experience” is, with some real world examples.

What is user experience? It’s actually pretty simple:

The overall experience of a person using a website or app, especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use.

As you may have guessed, some aspects of user experience can be subjective. Maybe you think hamburger menu icons are elegant and helpful, while others find them inconvenient. Perhaps you find it annoying when sites require complex passwords, while others might appreciate the added security. Continue reading →

Best Practices for QA Testing

Best Practices for QA Testing
Best Practices for QA Testing

Best practices for QA testing can be a lot to take in. There are bug reports, test cases, and many other steps involved for both manual testing and automated testing. Anyone who’s been in the QA field for awhile (or Engineering in general!) is familiar with the Agile QA process in software development.

However, it’s always a good idea to review best practices for QA Testing, whether you’re on day one or year ten of a QA career. Some of these tips may sound obvious, but others just might help you up your game.

QA DocumentationDocument Everything

Screenshots, video grabs, version info, and communication in general. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a screenshot is worth avoiding a thousand back-and-forth questions about a bug that a developer isn’t able to reproduce. If you can get a video showing the flow of the behavior, that’s even better.

It’s also important to proactively include info about the software version/OS/etc. For example, if you’re reporting a bug with a mobile app, instead of just saying “it’s happening on Android,” you can include the build version, Android OS version, type of Android device, and more. If you have time to go back and check the previous build, that’s helpful as well. Continue reading →

7 Traits You Need to Work From Home

Working Remotely From Home
7 Traits You Need to Work From Home

Not everyone wants to work from home. Some prefer to work in an office, surrounded by coworkers. (Extroverts, anyone?) But many people do their best work from home, or would like to give remote work a go. Do you have the right set of skills and home environment to excel at telecommuting? Find out if you have the traits you need to work from home.

What Traits Do You Need to Work From Home?

Traits You Need to Work From Home (remote worker using laptop)1. Being a self-starter. When you’re the only one in your “office,” you’re in charge of time management. Managers can still have a high degree of oversight via Slack, emails, and calls, but it’s up to you to supply the motivation for jumping into the right task at the right time.

2. Communication skills. Further, proactive communication skills, and knowing how to find the right balance. When you work remotely, communication is more important than ever. While everyone needs some “heads down” time to focus on getting work done, it’s important for clients and coworkers to be able to reach you in a timely manner.

It’s also important for you, as the remote worker, to proactively provide updates. You’ll want to take into account the needs of your client or company culture and adjust messaging accordingly. When you have a well-oiled process, it can be just as – if not more – smooth as an on-site team. Out of all the traits you need to work from home, communication is at the top of the list. Continue reading →