Around 10-12 years ago, when independent testing roles started to gain popularity, thanks to the adoption of WWW, things were different. Customers were looking at us to execute test cases (many a time written by them) and report anomalies, expecting to overcome the focused vision and probably the conformation bias of the development team. Then came the era of “you are so good at spotting bugs, quick at learning our product – why don’t you design the tests too?” And we excelled at that and raised their expectations.
Now is the age of “You know our products end to end, our business and end users well – why don’t you share thoughts on how to grow them better, how to increase our sales”
Crux of this evolution is “what has brought us here may not get us there”. If we have to survive amongst hundreds of order takers, we testers have to wear the sales hat and take steps towards being rain makers – or at least help in seeding the clouds
We are now left with little choice apart from knowing our customers and their business better. We are taking steps towards knowing the current popularity of their web sites and their products vis-Ã -vis their competitors and we suggest improvements to grow their business. We take Steps towards getting more and more information about their products and websites which impact their revenues, so as to test them better and grow our business.
With Google at our finger tips and the relationship / network people would have established before we start hitting the testing button in our projects, we have the means to get the information. This blog is about what else WWW has given us to know our customer and their business better and engage in a more fruitful conversation with them.
I came across flagfox (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/flagfox/), a Firefox add-on. It has a bouquet of interesting utilities and references to web sites which give us a wealth of information that can be a starting point for collating further information. Out of the many it contains, I found the following utilities interesting, and so this leaves the rest to be explored.
Tab – Site Profile
Has information on:
— Rank by unique Visitors – “Unique Visitors” implies visitors are counted once, no matter how many times they visit a site in a month. Counts represent traffic from the United States only. What is the insight about reach to newer / potential customers? If the traffic is high, but unique customers are low, what is the insight into repeat business?
— Competitive Rank – Competitor information and their rank in terms of web site visits. What is the insight into how to make our customer’s website more “saleable”?
(e.g. http://www.aboutus.org/Delta.com ) – What is the quick snapshot of the customer that helps to be on the tip of our fingers?
(http://www.domaintools.com/seo-browser/?domain=delta.com) – This is the text view of how a search engine sees the information of a web site. It Gives tips about things that could probably be improved with the current web page browsed. What is the insight into how to improve ranking in Google? Are the messages that our customers want to give to their customers effectively given?
2. Alexa – Alexa computes traffic rankings by analyzing the Web usage of millions of Alexa Toolbar users and data obtained from other, diverse traffic data sources. Though this may not be a representative sample of the global Internet population, it does give a holistic picture of popularity.
Tab: Traffic Stats
Estimated percentage of global internet users
Tab: Search analytics
Tab: Audience – Gives insight into end user demographics and helps in designing test cases
3. XMarks: e.g. http://www.xmarks.com/site/www.delta.com – Gives a list of similar sites that can give insight on competition. Helps in test design, product enhancement ideas, improving traffic?
http://tools.pingdom.com/fpt/– If we do a full page test for the web site, we get statistics as to which object in the web page is taking the maximum time to load. What are the suggestions for improving first impression?
5. Internet Archive: Go Way back! We can see how a website has evolved over time. Surely, lot of interesting conversations can be triggered with our customers and few things maybe on how their business and focus has changed.
As I have mentioned earlier, some of the data (especially traffic and usage stats) may not be a representative sample of the global Internet population. We should look at other sources for a more realistic picture (e.g. http://www.quantcast.com/delta.com), however I think for us testers to give suggestions or to take decisions, many a time high level of accuracy may not be needed – a holistic picture suffices.
Over to you for your thoughts and examples.