Here at Testomato, we’re always thinking about problems (and not just the ones that occur on websites). Product development is a continuously slippery slope of issues that need to be solved.
We previously shared our favorite Scrum techniques and how we use Kanban, and we wanted to share how problem solving plays a key role in the way we develop Testomato. Hopefully, it’s something that will help you with your own projects.
Our Initial Idea Was Actually a Problem
Testomato originally started out as a problem at Wikidi. We have a lot of other ongoing projects in addition to Testomato, and at the time, Michal was frustrated by the fact that working features would break when we released a new version.
It was hard for the team to keep manually testing everything. We eventually set up Selenium testing in a private cloud, but it took a long time and a lot of effort to keep it running.
Even though it worked for us, it wasn’t an ideal solution. We also realized that it wasn’t really ideal for any small companies out there.
So, we started thinking about ways we could bring the benefits of automated testing to others in a hosted and user-friendly format.
And that’s how Testomato was born.
A Problem is the Best Place to Start
There’s a whole lot of fancy jargon being thrown around these days about product innovation and invention, but here’s a simple truth:
A product is only as good as the problem it solves.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? That’s because it is.
Try to use problems as a way to generate ideas. You could have a really cool product, but if it doesn’t solve a practical problem for users – you’re most likely setting yourself up for failure.
Take a look around and think about what you can do to make life easier, more productive, more fun, more [nsert your adjective here].
In reality, innovation is more about solving a problem – in many cases, a problem people didn’t even know they had.
How Problems Play an Ongoing Role in Testomato’s Development
We like to think of problems as a way to expose areas that need to be improved, which require us to create solutions to fix them. As a result, problems are at the heart of our development process.
Over time, we’ve learned to use problems to help us recognize exactly what we need, what we don’t need, and what direction we want to go moving forward.
For example, a very early version of Testomato was used internally at Wikidi. One of the first issues we ran into was that people in the office were still missing errors. Everything was set up and running, but no one was going to the application regularly to check for issues. Within a very short period of time, we were able to see that adding notifications would make life easier for everyone.
Recognizing weaknesses in our product has also forced us to look closely at our workflow issues (we follow a lot of Lean principles) and address them immediately to improve the way we work.
Treat User Feedback as a Fresh Pair of Eyes
Our team also learns a lot (arguably the most) from the problems that our users bring to our attention. Sometimes, it’s difficult to step away from your product and approach it in the same way a user can.
We’re often too close, too invested, and attached to our ideas. So it’s a necessary part of our work to gather information about what our users still need and what they don’t like.
Here’s a few other reasons we love user feedback:
- Engages and involves our users in our development process.
- Allows us to address and solve a lot of the immediate frustrations that users might have.
- Gives us a deeper understanding of who are users are and what they want.
- Helps us generate new ideas about how to improve Testomato and other Wikidi projects.
Use feedback from your users as an opportunity to discover and get to know your project as a stranger. It’s a simple way to improve an existing product – all you have to do is listen.
Don’t Get Distracted from the Original Problem
Whenever we get stuck or can’t decide what to do next, we always go back to the drawing board and ask:
What problem are we solving?
We want to make automated testing fast and simple. We want to make sure other teams can access a solution without the same difficulties we experienced.
We are constantly asking ourselves:
- Is this really making everything easier?
- Are we keeping it simple?
- Does it help us solve our basic problem?
It’s easy to lose sight of your original problem as you develop. If you feel like you’ve lost focus, remind yourself why you’re building and what problem you’re trying to solve. By focusing on that problem, you’ll be able to see the solutions more clearly.