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The Four Hour Tester - Modelling as a Team Exercise

A few weeks ago, myself and a few colleagues embarked on the Four Hour Tester exercises, starting with the skills of interpretation.

As promised we have attempted the second exercise, modelling. Modelling for me is one of the key testing skills, especially if you don't wish to rendered inert when there are no 'requirements' or 'documentation.' Making our models explicit is also critical, we all carry around our models of a product, system or process in our headers, and when externalised, can raise new questions, both of our own understanding, and as a wider group.

The essence of the exercise was to take three tours from Michael Kelly's FCC CUTS VIDS touring heuristic, specifically:
  • Users Tour
  • Data Tour
  • Configuration Tour
And go exploring!

Anyway, we grouped ourselves up and had go, with one slight change, instead of Google Calendar we used the deeply insane Ling's Cars website! Here's what we came up with:

Notes (rough) from our Lings Cars session this aft:
User Tour:

As a holidaymaker
I want to lease a cheap car for 2 persons
so I can easily explore for a week

‘Easy step by step guide’ page is too wordy with unnecessary pictures - unclear for user

Managed to find out:  Insurance is our responsibility, exceeding agreed mileage costs extra

Wanted to find out but were unable:  Multi language sat nav? Fuel level when collected / returned?

User confidence - low (as a user can I trust this business with my money?)

No ability to compare prices with other providers - would be useful

Data Tour:

Looked for:
Cost per week - looks like long term leasing only
Car spec (top speed, mpg, manual/auto, etc) - some data on this was found but difficulty finding the data in amongst the madness

Config Tour:

Stop / Play setting for Homepage video - does not persist on page refresh
Potential personalisation - didn’t sign up but login appeared to be available


User Tours

I want to lease a family car, for £1000 a month, but don't know what I want really

* There are some immediate cars show on the homepage, can scroll through and review.
* There is a list down the left hand nav, so if I knew what I wanted I could click through
* Now I want to filter down my search, because I don't know what I want yet.
* I want to be able to get a quote and order, click Cars
** Order a car
** Get a quote
** How it works
** Full car list!
*** Finally found what I wanted
*** I can search by price and car type finally
*** But still haven't got any results

- If I knew what I wanted, I think it would be much easier to use this site!

Data Tours

List all the major data points of the application

* Lings Deal ID
* Cars
** Price per Month
*** Price by Mileage
** Car Specification
*** Engine Size
*** Name
*** Fuel Type 
*** Transmission 
*** Age
* Agreement
** Warranty
** Extras
* Customers
** States
*** Customers in Proposal
*** Customers in Order
** Time
*** Customers wait time for proposal 
*** Customers wait time for order
** Staff
*** Available in the office
*** Metadata about the staff

Configuration Tour

Attempt to find all the ways you can change settings in the product in a way that the application retains those settings.

* Webcam - Add Staff Overlay then refresh page - Overlay is not retained
* There is no login, so its hard to change settings in a way which affects the experience superficially.
* Interesting testing dynamic that a website with so much stuff on it isn't that personalisable.
* Changed the cookie values, deleted the php session id and nothing happened. Perhaps they are no longer receiving that id in requests from my session, can't see logs.

Evaluation Questions

1. For each tour write down a few things you would want to test.
** Users Tour
*** Find a car via filters and proceed to get a quote - see how long it takes to get from landing to quote 
*** Come to the site with a specific car in mind to lease and compare the timings
*** Skip the quote and proceed straight to order and note the significant differences.
** Data Tours
*** I'd be intruiged to get a group together and try and effect the numbers of quotes/orders in progress
** Configuration Tours
*** I would love to block certain aspects of the site (embedded video players for example) and try to use it.

How did these tours help you to come up with different test ideas?
* Changing angles, while facilitating focus - again with the Lings Cars site, a lot going on, what was the core of the product?


(Shared with permission from the team taking part)

A couple of thoughts from me on the exercise and the session:
  • The Touring Mindset - to enter into and maintain a touring mindset is quite hard, at least without practice. However, I think it is important in attempting to add fresh eyes to a product you may have tested for a long time. More refresher sessions like this would be useful in many contexts, especially long lived product teams.
  • Models and Truth - testing and the concept of truth has a complex relationship. Searching for single sources of truth is a sport that many teams often engage in, but using touring to expose models shows that different people on the same tour with the same mission can find very different truths. Things claimed as truths are my favourite claims to test...
Next up, test design, stay tuned...


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