ET Session of Google.com.au – Report

Having recently undertaken an ET session of Google.com.au I thought I would extend my practice to reporting on my findings. What follows is the report of my session.

Initial mission:

  • Practice mapping a website (Google.com.au) using a mind mapping tool (MindMup)

Mission inclusions (as I tested):

  • Learn more about the chosen website
  • Practice Exploratory Testing (ET)

Note – I did not time box the session, nor did I accurately measure the length of the session. I would estimate the approximate session time being 1 hour. This hour includes the note taking, but excludes the time taken to write this report.

Tools utilised:

  • MindMup – Used to map the website and note taking while testing
  • 15 inch laptop
  • Google Chrome (version 0.2125.111 m)

Site tested:

Note – I was logged in to my Google account during the session.

Google

Mapping:

Product Breakdown:

For the purpose of this report I have broken the website into 3 main areas and will report on them separately. The 4th area I’ll report on relates to elements outside of the 3 areas. The areas are:

  1. Header
  2. Search
  3. Footer
  4. Other

Note – this breakdown only partially aligns to the structure of the mind map I created.

Report of findings:

Header

The Header area consists of a series of buttons and links placed in the upper right hand corner of the screen.

Links:

  • David+
  • Gmail
  • Images

Buttons:

  • Apps
  • Notifications
  • Google+ Share
  • Account

Note – In this report I’m using the term ‘buttons’ as a label for buttons and clickable icons.

There are further links within each of the buttons as shown on the mind map.

Potential problems identified in the Header, and suggestions where applicable:

  • As is consistent with many links on the website, each of the links in the Header open in the same tab. My personal preference would be to have the majority of these links opened in a new tab.
  • The Search link found within the Apps button appears to be redundant. When clicked it takes you to Google.com.au, which is same location as before clicking. Suggest replacing this link with another Google App link.
  • The Google+ and Gmail links found within the Apps button appear to be redundant. There is already a Google+ and Gmail link in the Header. Suggest replacing these links with other Google App links.
  • The Privacy link found within the Account dialog after clicking the Account button takes you to the same page as the Privacy link found in the Footer of the website. I don’t feel that 2 of the same link are required. Suggest removing this Privacy link and keeping the Footer Privacy link as that will always remain on the page. This link may not be available if you are not logged in when on the website.
  • After clicking sign out and landing back on the website, the Use Google.com link is no longer visible in the Footer. This happened on another occasion and will be reported on in Footer area.

Search

The Search area consists of the search bar (where characters are entered for the purpose of a www search), a logo, and 3 buttons:

  • Voice Search
  • Google Search
  • I’m Feeling Lucky

Note – Voice Search was not included in the scope of this session.

Information discovered in the Search area:

  • Clicking on the I’m Feeling Lucky button when no text is entered in the search bar takes you to Google Doodles.
  • Clicking on the I’m Feeling Lucky button takes you directly to the page of what would be the first search result (assumption). This allowed be to find where all the previous Google logos for special events are stored.
  • Clicking on Google Search when no text is entered in the search bar does nothing.
  • There are several Easter Eggs that can be discovered in the search bar.
  • The word length limit of Google search appears to be 128 characters. Note this is different from the string length limit; that was not explored.

Potential problems identified in the Search area:

  • The Google Search button appears to be redundant. When entering text into the search bar, it is moved to the top left of the screen and the button is removed and replaced with a message of ‘Press Enter to search.’ or the standard blue google search button at the right hand side of the search bar.
  • Following on from the above potential problem, clicking the browser back button takes you to a different version of the Google search website. This new website appears to be the same one you get when opening a new tab. Entering text in the search bar on this different website then moves your text and cursor to the address bar. This is confusing. This new screen also doesn’t have the Google Search or I’m Feeling Lucky buttons.

Note – At the time of writing this section of the report (approx. 3 days after the session) I attempted to reproduce the above potential problem. Instead of being taken to the different website I was taken back to Google.com.au as I would have expected during the original session.

  • As above, the I’m Feeling Lucky button also appears to be redundant.
  • When searching for something that Google’s predictive search does not find you cannot use the I’m Feeling Lucky function. This function is only available by highlighting one of the Google predictive searches and clicking on I’m Feeling Lucky at the right of the predictive search.
  • Due to the above listed potential problems, the I’m Feeling Lucky function is somewhat confusing to use.
  • There appears to be a few different ways you can perform a search using Google. While this may seem to be beneficial it is also somewhat confusing.
  • Searching for spaces only appears to do nothing. I would suggest that the search is reset and a message be displayed to the user stating that spaces are not recognised in searches (if in fact that is the intended behaviour).
  • Spaces before and after text appear to be ignored. As above I would suggest a message to the user; however there may also be valid searches that have spaces before and after so revisiting this behaviour could be beneficial.

Footer

The Footer area consists of a series of links placed in the lower left and right hand corners of the screen.

Links:

  • Advertising
  • Business
  • About
  • Privacy
  • Terms
  • Settings
  • Use Google.com

Potential problems identified in the Footer area:

  • As is consistent with many links on the website, each of the links in the Footer open in the same tab. My personal preference would be to have the majority of these links opened in a new tab.
  • The Use Google.com link is removed when performing a I’m Feeling Lucky search for Google. This occurred on another occasion as noted in the Header section of this report. I would suggest further exploration of this as I have a feeling there would be more scenarios where this occurs. It is also difficult to get the Use Google.com link to return as a page refresh does not work.

Other

During the session I decided to explore the function keys to learn how they interacted with the website, if at all:

Potential problems identified with the function keys:

  • The following functions keys did not appear to have any actions:
    • F2
    • F4
    • F7
    • F8
    • F9
    • F10

I would suggestion making use of these function keys if possible.

  • Pressing F3 for a second time does not close the find function.
  • Pressing F6 for a second time does move the cursor away from the address bar, but does not move it back to the search bar. I would suggest this as a good place to move the cursor to.

Summary:

After spending approx. 1 hour exploring Google.com.au I have identified 18 potential problems and discovered some interesting pieces of information.

I don’t believe that any of the potential problems I have identified pose a great risk to the product; however that is my opinion only and I would suggest each one is further assessed by the product owner/s and other users at different levels of capability using search engine websites.

I achieved my initial mission via the creation of the mind map, and also achieved the late inclusions to my mission as I have learned more about the website and also practiced ET.

ET Session of Google.com.au

I recently undertook a quick ET session of Google.com.au. My initial mission was to practice mapping a website using a mind map, but as I went along it also began to include learning more about what the site does, and also to practice ET. I regret not timing myself, but I think I spent approx. 1 hour exploring and note taking (via the mind map below).

This was a simple yet powerful exercise for me. As I began mapping the site I quickly moved to thinking about ways it could be improved (in my opinion), exploring some of the functions, and also noticing some strange behaviour, etc.

The most powerful lesson for me was realising that I could spend a LOT more time on this exercise even when considering the site’s simple appearance. Looks can most certainly be deceiving… there is lot more to Google.com.au than searching!

Mind Map – ET of Google.com.au

I’ve done some simple colour coding of the map:

  • Grey – Page elements or notes.
  • Blue – Notes or the end of my thread of exploration.
  • Green – I consider the feature to be functioning as I would expect/I like it.
  • Yellow – A concern that I think warrants more consideration from either myself, or someone that can answer my question, etc.
  • Red – What I consider to be a problem for me.

Next time someone asks you to test what appears to be a simple product, be prepared for a not so simple test session!

Also, a shout out to MindMup – What a great tool!

The Dojo – MoT

Firstly, what an awesome idea! The Dojo is another learning avenue brought to us by the team at Ministry of Testing. These guys and gals (namely Rosie) are great at collating, creating, and sharing loads of reference material for testers all over the globe.

I’ve only just started taking a look at The Dojo and I’m liking it. Unfortunately the current bandwidth I’m on is killing the video at several points, but this simply allows me to point to one of the best features available to video playback on the net… playback where you left off last time! :)

playback

I’m in the middle of Matt Archer’s series titled Optimising Manual Test Scripts for an Agile Environment. This is available under the basic free registration until Saturday the 31st of January, 2015. So get on it!

Great interface and great material = ease of learning (in my humble opinion).

Do yourself a favour and check it out. I’ll be moving on to the TestBash material next… :)

James Bach – A Man of Many Talents

It would seem that James Bach is not only a great tester…

Greenlees1

…he’s also a great artist!

This is Zukoh, my 8 year old Dalmatian. I took this picture – well, a picture exactly like this – of him last year and had it framed for my wife. During OZWST earlier this year James was showing me some of his drawings (of other dogs) on his iPad and I mentioned that I had the perfect picture for him to draw… and he nailed it.

The picture was taken with a 25mm lens so the foreground is focused while the background is not. James captured that brilliantly.

Well done, and thank you James.

Bruce Lee – Enter the Game

Many of you would know… I’m a big fan of Bruce Lee. So a little while ago I was pleased to find out that a new mobile game was being developed named; Bruce Lee – Enter the Game.

5 play

Screenshot from the game 

Despite my excitement I only downloaded and commenced playing the game yesterday, and being the usability nut that I am I noticed a few things about my initial interactions that I thought I’d share.

Upon initial loading (which is indicated to the user quite nicely) there are several different Bruce Lee quotes displayed for a few seconds a piece. This is a fantastic way to provide the user with some interaction while waiting for the game to load; especially helpful in this game as the load times are fairly lengthy compared to other games I’ve played.

Jakob Nielsen -“Visibility of system status: The system should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within reasonable time.”

 

After this initial load period I stumbled across my first moment of confusion…

1 BL would like to

It appeared that Bruce Lee wanted to do something; however I wasn’t quite sure what. My initial assumption, using the visual prompts displayed, was that he wanted me to follow him on Google+, but because I wasn’t really sure I hit CANCEL. Perhaps if this was explained a bit better I would have taken a different path. Left with no explanation I didn’t want any of it.

Jakob Nielsen – “Consistency and standards: Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing. Follow platform conventions.”

 

The next few screens were similar to the above however they each provided an explanation of what information was going to be shared with Google and I was happy to proceed with most if it. One particular part that I didn’t want to share was easily updated through the UI with a few simple steps; that was pleasing.

Continuing into the game the majority of actions I took for the first time were joined by an explanation dialogue that guided me in my decision making and explained what I was doing as I did it. My assumption is that these will not be displayed the second and proceeding times I execute the same actions, but I have not tested this.

The great user instruction continued into the actual game play. Each of Bruce Lee’s moves were explained in the same way; by providing an explanation dialogue and then allowing you to undertake the action required for the move. As learning by doing is my thing, I really appreciated this when compared to other games that provide instructions via a help section outside of the game play.

Jakob Nielsen – “Aesthetic and minimalist design: Dialogues should not contain information which is irrelevant or rarely needed. Every extra unit of information in a dialogue competes with the relevant units of information and diminishes their relative visibility.”

 

After successfully dispatching all of Bruce Lee’s enemy’s, I was presented with my 3 stars…

2 exit 1

Oh, and a new life! Awesome. At this point I realised that my bus stop was nearing and so decided to quit the game. Ah, how do I quit? I spent a bit of time on the above screen trying to find a way back to my phone’s home screen, but couldn’t. After some thought I decided to lock my phone and unlock it to see what might happen…

3 hidden menu

Success! Some explanation as to how I get out of full screen mode. After seeing this I did recall it being displayed earlier, when I first started the game, but I hadn’t thought about it when I needed it. So I hit OK and then swiped down…

4 exit 2 with menu

More success! My phone’s menu now displayed and I could get back to the home screen. While I got to the point I wanted to in the end, my preference would be some sort of constant visual representation that a swipe down would reveal the menu (exit full screen mode). It could be a simple little downward pointing arrow using the same style as the rest of the game so it doesn’t look out of place. Looking at the screenshots above I think there is plenty of available real estate for such a button.

Jakob Nielsen – “Recognition rather than recall: Minimize the user’s memory load by making objects, actions, and options visible. The user should not have to remember information from one part of the dialogue to another. Instructions for use of the system should be visible or easily retrievable whenever appropriate.”

 

Overall I would rate it as a good experience so far. I have plenty more game play ahead of me, and perhaps if I notice more while doing so I’ll add to this post.

This has been a good reminder of how much I use Jakob’s Usability Heuristics without really being aware of it.

Update – This evening my daughter was playing the game on the bus and said to me, “Dad, how do I get back to the main screen?” I was more than happy to show her how (by swiping down), but it has since occurred to me that anyone playing the game on a smart phone where it has been played before could face the same issue. Even more evidence for the need to resolve it.