The components of a well-written step

A step is the building block of a Rainforest test. Rainforest tests drive testers through a series of action/question formatted steps. Steps are the primary means of instruction for our crowd of testers, so it's vital to write clear, concise, and easily understood steps.

Each step is comprised of an action followed by a question to guide testers through what they should do and what they should confirm. We refer to it as an action/question format:

Action: What should the tester do?

Question: In the form of a Yes / No question.

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How should I write my steps?

Each step should be a clear, concise, and easy-to-follow instruction of what the tester should do. It should be followed by an equally clear question confirming what they should expect to see. Make sure that this question can be answered easily with a Yes or No.

If you only remember three things:

  1. Keep it simple:
    Don’t use jargon or complicated language where simple words will do.
  2. Keep it short:
    Under 20 steps is best and under 300 characters per step instructions.
  3. Keep the testers in mind:
    Think of our testers as a completely new user to your application and industry.

How specific should my steps be?

While tests must be tightly focused on a specific process, individual steps can be as high-level or low-level as you wish, depending on what you want to confirm.

Let's use a test for checking the signup form feature as an example.

  • Low-level:
    If the only level of detail that matters is the successful creation of a new user, you could write something like:
    Click on the Sign Up button in the top right and enter random details.

However, you probably need to validate specific text entries in the signup process. You can expand the steps to whatever level of specificity you require.

  • High-level:
    Use step variables or manually define values for testers to enter:
    Click on the Sign Up Button, enter "Susan Platt" and email "splatt@example.com

You can ensure any number of things (right email format, minimum password length, confirming that the correct user details appear) simply by expanding the language of the step.

It's entirely up to you to decide how specific you want to make your steps, and therefore how much detail you want and need to get back from your testers.

Keep step instructions short and simple

It's easy to lose track of what to do next when steps are dense. If you find you're including 3 or 4 different instructions or questions in a single step, it's better to break them into two or more steps.

Be sure to check out our tips for limiting ambiguity and vagueness for further support.

Eliminate jargon

The best Rainforest tests are free of jargon. Remember that testers may encounter your app for the first time, and don't know it as an internal team member would. To help, imagine that your writing tests for your grandmother to perform.

Take a look at the difference:

The simpler and more user-friendly your language is, the faster and more reliable your results will be.

Use double quotes for exact matches for important terms

Testers are trained and have rules to enter or look for and match terms contained within double quotes exactly. This is an easy way to indicate that you need to confirm some exact copy or have them enter specific text into a field.

Be careful with how you use double-quotes. Don't use quotes if all you really want is to draw attention to a word, rather than get an exact match for it.

Visit this help article to learn more about using quoted text effectively.

Embed images and text files:

If you'd like testers to look for something that might be difficult for them to understand or if is complex for you to describe, consider adding an image into the step so they know exactly what to look for. This includes GIFs, text files—just drag and drop them into the step!

Check out our detailed guide on how to insert screenshots and text files.

Adjust where a step belongs in a test

To re-order your steps within a test, simply hover over the dots on the right of the step, and then click and drag up or down.

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Want some more advice on writing your steps? Looking for suggestions, tips, or tricks? Reach out to us at support@rainforestapp.com with any questions!

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