Bug Reporting 101 - A Customer Friendly Guide to Reporting Bugs

When you work with websites and app development, you’re guaranteed to be familiar with bugs.

Not just the insect kind of course! I’m talking about the nasty coding issues that prevent software from working the way it’s supposed to.

For software developers, these sorts of bugs can be a nightmare. Apart from discovering that something isn’t working, you now need to dedicate time to report the bug and to get it fixed. But that’s just part of the job and the reality of working with software.

For all other software users, like your customers, bug reporting is a whole other thing. When your customers and website visitors come across a bug, you don’t want them to be burdened with the headache of reporting it. Yes, you still want them to report the bug, but in a way that is quick and easy for them.

In this article, we are going to take a deeper look at the topic of bug reporting and how you can help customers easily report bugs directly from your website.

What is a Bug?

Before we dive deep into the topic of bug reporting, it is essential to first understand what the term “bug” means in the world of software development.

A software bug can be defined as a flaw or an error in the computer program which causes it to give an unexpected or wrong output. It also causes the system to behave in ways for which it was not intended.

Let’s use Gmail for example. Suppose we were to click on the "Inbox" menu and it took us to the "Draft" page instead. That would be a bug. As a Gmail user this would be very frustrating, but at least there is an easy way to send feedback to Google so they can fix it. And credit to Google for building such an awesome app built on user feedback! :)

So why do bugs exist? The main reasons are poor coding practices, miscommunication and good old fashioned human error. That’s why it’s important for software to be tested properly with the right bug tracking and testing tools.

What is Bug Reporting?

Ok, so we now know what bugs are and why they exist. Now for the most important question of all - how do we get them fixed? Well it starts with reporting them of course! :)

The art of reporting the specific error that you encounter in a piece of software is called “Bug Reporting”. Bug reports are what developers use to record an issue, replicate it, troubleshoot it and document how to fix it.

Why is it Essential to Report a Bug?

Bug reporting is a significant part of software testing. When you write a good bug report, it communicates the issue well with the development team and removes ambiguity and miscommunication.

A good bug report ought to be clear and concise with no missing elements. Any absence of information risks the developer misunderstanding the issue and slowing down the process of getting the bug fixed.

The most important information that a bug report should convey is what the issue is, where it happened, and the steps that led up to it. If you encountered multiple bugs then it’s also important to report each bug separately. This is more efficient for the developer as it helps them isolate each issue separately and to fix them one at a time. Keep reading below for more tips and advice on how to report a bug.

How to Report a Bug?

Now that we’ve explained the importance of reporting bugs, let’s take a look at how to do it properly. There are various methods by which you can report a bug. Most important is to explain the problem in a clear and concise way. Just remember, the chances of the bug being fixed are directly related to the quality of your bug report.

Each bug report has its own features and requirements based on the tool being used to report it. But if you’re new to bug reporting and don’t already have a reporting system in place, here are some tips and features to help you get started.

1. Number your Bug

Assigning a unique number to the bug makes it easy for all stakeholders to keep a track of the issue as it progresses through the various stages of the development cycle. Most bug reporting tools will automatically assign a number for you, so it’s usually not something you need to worry about doing yourself.

2. Operating System and Browser

The operating system and browser info are fundamental for a detailed bug report. Without this information, it can be very difficult for developers to replicate the issue. Suppose you encounter a bug when using a software on your Mac. You report the bug, but the developer investigating the issue is on a PC. For them, the software might be working fine which leads them to conclude that there is no issue at all. However if the bug report specified that the issue was encountered on a Mac, it saves the developer time when replicating the issue and allows them to start fixing it sooner.

3. Title of the Bug

A good bug title summarizes the issue in as few words as possible. Try to use language that is straightforward, concise and easy for others to understand. To revisit our earlier example of a bug with Gmail, we might report this bug using a title like this.

Clicking the Inbox menu links to Drafts instead

4. A Good Description

Bug descriptions help developers understand the issue in more detail. When writing the description, just try to explain the issue in your own words and include the steps leading up to it. Remember that developers will need to try to replicate the bug. So just give them whatever information you think they will need in order to do that.

In my experience, it’s best not to make your own assumptions about what the cause of a bug is. So when reporting a bug, simply describe the issue as best you can so that the developer can investigate the issue and get to the task of fixing it.

5. Proof of the Bug

If you’ve got screenshots, videos, or log files that are relevant to the issue that you’ve encountered, you should 100% include them with your bug report. For example, if the bug you encountered is across multiple screens, then try to include a video screen recording. If the bug is a minor UI issue, then an annotated screenshot will be enough.

Should Customers Report Software Bugs?

It might sound silly, but the single most crucial part of bug tracking is to ensure they get reported in the first place. So if you encounter a bug, no matter who you are, you should report it. Try not to worry about whether it's a duplicate. And even if it’s difficult to replicate the bug, try not to let that stop you.

For developers and software testers, it’s just part of the job to report bugs. Software users (your customers) will also encounter bugs from time to time and can also play an important role in reporting bugs so they can be fixed. When you give customers the right bug reporting tools, it can actually be a very useful way to continuously improve your software.

Bug Reporting Tools

There are many names that people use when referring to bug reporting tools. Some of the more common ones are:

  • Issue tracker
  • Testing tools
  • Defect tracker
  • Defect tracking software
  • Bug tracking tool
  • Bug tracking software
  • Bug tracker
  • Bug reporter
  • Bug report system
  • Bug report template

Whatever you call them, the main focus of all bug reporting tools is to make it easier to report bugs. A good bug reporting tool helps bridge the gap between when you first encounter a bug, to reporting it with all the information for developers to fix it.

Userback is one of the most popular bug reporting tools because it allows for bugs to be reported visually with annotated screenshots and video screen recordings.

It even captures the console logs, operating system and browser information automatically, giving developers all the information they need to fix bugs faster.

In fact, reporting bugs with Userback is 20 times faster than using email and relying on words alone as it allows for bugs and issues to be explained visually. Userback’s feedback widget is easily added to any website and allows users to submit feedback and report bugs without ever leaving your website. So it’s extremely fast and easy to use, giving your customers a seamless experience when reporting bugs.

Conclusion

In this article, we have explained how to properly report bugs for developers to fix the issue as quickly as possible.

When you use the best bug reporting tools, it creates a healthy communication bridge between customers, developers and testers. Which benefits everyone as it ensures your website and application is bug-free and also offering the best experience for your users.

Try Userback for free and see how easy it is to report bugs directly from your website with annotated screenshots and video recordings. Using this tool will help you build better websites and applications for your customers.

Try it!

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