I think one of the wonderful things about having children is the constant reminder that parents have of what it means to live life in the most natural way- just as a child does. The ideal of remaining “childish” was brought home strongly for me in the last couple of years by a new, close family member who is a strong believer in this idea. He knows of a certain local figure who is known for living his life by this principle- he is in his eighties but has no qualms about getting down on the floor and playing with his grandchildren; he makes sure to laugh raucously every single day and in short is an eighty-something year-old child.
I think that if we were to consciously take on child-like behaviors in many areas of life we would experience satisfaction, happiness and success. You’re probably scratching your head, wondering how behaving like a child could possibly help you as a mobile application tester- hang in there, I’m about to explainâ€¦
“Curiosity Killed the Cat?” So 1916s…
I love watching children walk down the street (where I live, children are given a lot more independence than children in many other countries and it is therefore not unusual to see children meandering down the street alone). Adults walk down the street with a goal of getting from A to B- the walk is a means to an end. Children love experiencing the means itself- the walk is not just a walk, but an opportunity to explore using all five senses.
Those in the testing world know that there is a lot of tedious parts to set-up and repeating steps. But then there’s the creative side of figuring out how to test a feature, what data to use, which different paths to explore in order to cover all possible scenarios- and that is what is so addictive in a way. For those who can allow themselves to do so, make sure to enjoy the ride by using off-road testing too- let the software take you where it may just as child allows a walk to take him where it may…
But Why, Mummy?
Mothers are all too familiar with that awfully trying toddler stage when your child seems to have an endless supply of “why?” Sleep-deprived mum just wants to get mundane tasks done and the toddler just keeps asking, “Why?”- No answer is ever good enough and the toddler keeps on asking and asking and asking. Experts explain that this questioning stage is a vital part of child development and their exploration of the world around them. An oft-suggested strategy is to direct the question back at the child and to then explore the question together with the child.
Testers, we know that questioning is a vital part of our profession. You need to ask yourself questions along every single step of the testing process- at the beginning you need to be able to ask questions that will help you hone in on what you wish to learn from the testing process you’re about to undertake; during testing you will want to question, well just about everything about the device, how it works, on which devices it works, etc. A truly good tester knows how to ask others too- when unsure, a tester knows how to ask colleagues and those with experience in the field.
In the words of Barney, “Just imagine, just imagineâ€¦”
That big purple dinosaur sure knows his audience. Children are incredible in their ability to imagine and make-believe. Mothers observing their toddler playing with siblings, alone, with friends or with an imaginary friend are often taken aback by the richness of the child’s imagination. Children can transport themselves simply through the power of their mind.
Testers- you need to tap into that imagination and be able to plug into your user’s head and experience. You donâ€™t want those bugs coming to surface when the device is already in the user’s hands- you want to think like your user and imagine all sorts of possible situations that the app will be required to face in the “real world”. Thinking like the user will allow you to discover valuable bugs that you may otherwise never discover…
Angela Schwindt really hits the nail on the head with her fabulous comment, “While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” I suggest that we bend down, look eye-to-eye with the children in our world and become better testers, friends and people by connecting through them to our inner-child.