Using Testing Checklists: In Theory and Practice

Definition and Main Characteristics

In this blog I want to talk about using checklists as an important—and even necessary—part of the testing process. You might use a checklist to smoke test an application after a release or to regression test an application in the staging environment before release.

Let’s start with the global definition of a checklist:

A checklist is a formalized list or catalog of actions and tasks that are to be performed during a testing process

With the definition out of the way, now we can get down the the more interesting introductory details.

First, after compiling checklists for a variety of projects, I can tell you that a testing checklist needs to be tailored to the needs of a particular project. There are simply no strict requirements for the checklist – it can be either structured , ordered, or free-form. The level of detail also depends entirely on the person creating it and their needs.

Second, though there are a lot of similarities, checklists for web testing and mobile testing can differ significantly in terms of the required amount detail, as well as some other nuances. Mobile testing can often be so much more complex than web testing, that the topic of creating a good checklist for mobile testing should be a completely separate blog post. For example, with mobile testing, you have to consider things like Bluetooth, mobile internet / Wi-Fi, physical features of the phone, data synchronization, screen resolution, etc. For that reason, I focus this post primarily on checklists for web applications.

Checklist Components

Let’s try to isolate some of the main components that should be present in a checklist, and then I’ll show you a sample of a checklist for a specific project.

A checklist should:

  • Contain a list of actions to be performed or sections to be checked
  • Include statuses that are assigned after performing actions / checks (passed, failed, blocked, in progress)
  • Be composed of independent actions—each action should not rely on the previous ones. If you do not follow this simple rule, you will accidentally be compiling test cases instead of creating a checklist. That’s a valid an useful thing to do, but it’s not what we’re talking about here.

It may surprise you to hear it, butI believe that this is where the basic components of the checklist ends.

Optionally, you may choose to provide more detailed descriptions of the actions to be performed, and then you will need to a description to each of your checklist actions. The description can capture different nuances you want to test. In order not to overload the description section, you may also choose to add a notes section to each action. What you choose to write in the notes will depend on your needs, but I will present you with some specific examples of how I use the notes in my examples below.

Customizing Your Checklist

Next you may want to customize your checklist for the needs of your project. You could specify several sections for different browsers you want to test, separate mobile and desktop testing, or specify the environment or build on which the testing was carried out.

The possibilities for customizing the checklist are almost limitless, but it’s better to keep a certain balance and remember that there is an unspoken rule among testers – it will be great if tomorrow or in a month your checklist will be opened by a completely different tester and can use it without any problems in working on a project. Often that means keeping it simple and easy to use.

Finally, you may choose to number each item with a unique number or ID. We have already decided that the actions from the list should not be performed in any specific order, but it can be helpful to have IDs if you want to be able to share information about an a problem with the team. Using a number or short ID allows you to reference the action without having to copy a large or cumbersome action name to reference the action.

Benefits of Using Checklists for Testing

Now that we have analyzed the main components of the checklist and many of the optional components, it would be logical to summarize why a checklist is so useful and why it remains a critically important part of the testing process.

  1. Simplicity – a basic checklist can be created quite quickly and, if desired, does not require any additional tools (Notepad, Microsoft Office, or Google Docs are all good for this purpose)
  2. Flexibility – the checklist is easily adapted to the specific needs of the project and its testing processes
  3. Convenient visualization – a high-quality checklist is not overloaded with unnecessary information and any can glace at it and easily determine the general structure of the work that needs to be performed and it’s current status
  4. Resue – all the pluses and features described above lead us to the fact that the checklist can be changed many times over its lifetime, and can be used and edited by different team members at the same time

A Checklist Example

Now that I’ve completed the theoretical part, it’s time to put all this knowledge into practice.

Below you have the opportunity to see a checklist created for one of my recent projects. As you review it, remember that a checklist can be tailored to the needs of a particular project. It should serve as a help for the tester(s) or other team members who want to use it, and by no means does it have to be a complex or intricate structure.

I hope that is helpful to you as you create your own testing checklists. Let me know in the comments how you create checklists or customize them.

Checklist example. Part 1.

Checklist example. Part 2.

Checklist example. Part 3.

Checklist example. Part 4.

Checklist example. Part 5.

Related Blog Posts

We hope you’ve found this to be helpful and are walking away with some new, useful insights. If you want to learn more, here are a couple of related articles that others also usually find to be interesting:

Our Gear Is Packed and We're Excited to Explore with You

Ready to come with us? 

Together, we can map your company’s tech journey and start down the trails. If you’re set to take the first step, simply fill out the form below. We’ll be in touch – and you’ll have a partner who cares about you and your company. 

We can’t wait to hear from you! 

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Together, we can map your company’s tech journey and start down the trails. If you’re set to take the first step, simply fill out the form below. We’ll be in touch – and you’ll have a partner who cares about you and your company. 

We can’t wait to hear from you! 

Montage Portal

Montage Furniture Services provides furniture protection plans and claims processing services to a wide selection of furniture retailers and consumers.

Project Background

Montage was looking to build a new web portal for both Retailers and Consumers, which would integrate with Dynamics CRM and other legacy systems. The portal needed to be multi tenant and support branding and configuration for different Retailers. Trailhead architected the new Montage Platform, including the Portal and all of it’s back end integrations, did the UI/UX and then delivered the new system, along with enhancements to DevOps and processes.

Logistics

We’ve logged countless miles exploring the tech world. In doing so, we gained the experience that enables us to deliver your unique software and systems architecture needs. Our team of seasoned tech vets can provide you with:

Custom App and Software Development

We collaborate with you throughout the entire process because your customized tech should fit your needs, not just those of other clients.

Cloud and Mobile Applications

The modern world demands versatile technology, and this is exactly what your mobile and cloud-based apps will give you.

User Experience and Interface (UX/UI) Design

We want your end users to have optimal experiences with tech that is highly intuitive and responsive.

DevOps

This combination of Agile software development and IT operations provides you with high-quality software at reduced cost, time, and risk.

Trailhead stepped into a challenging project – building our new web architecture and redeveloping our portals at the same time the business was migrating from a legacy system to our new CRM solution. They were able to not only significantly improve our web development architecture but our development and deployment processes as well as the functionality and performance of our portals. The feedback from customers has been overwhelmingly positive. Trailhead has proven themselves to be a valuable partner.

– BOB DOERKSEN, Vice President of Technology Services
at Montage Furniture Services

Technologies Used

When you hit the trails, it is essential to bring appropriate gear. The same holds true for your digital technology needs. That’s why Trailhead builds custom solutions on trusted platforms like .NET, Angular, React, and Xamarin.

Expertise

We partner with businesses who need intuitive custom software, responsive mobile applications, and advanced cloud technologies. And our extensive experience in the tech field allows us to help you map out the right path for all your digital technology needs.

  • Project Management
  • Architecture
  • Web App Development
  • Cloud Development
  • DevOps
  • Process Improvements
  • Legacy System Integration
  • UI Design
  • Manual QA
  • Back end/API/Database development

We partner with businesses who need intuitive custom software, responsive mobile applications, and advanced cloud technologies. And our extensive experience in the tech field allows us to help you map out the right path for all your digital technology needs.

Our Gear Is Packed and We're Excited to Explore with You

Ready to come with us? 

Together, we can map your company’s tech journey and start down the trails. If you’re set to take the first step, simply fill out the contact form. We’ll be in touch – and you’ll have a partner who cares about you and your company. 

We can’t wait to hear from you! 

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Thank you message.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.