What is a step?

Your Rainforest tests drive testers through each process via a simple series of action/question formatted steps. Steps are the primary means of instruction to your testers, so it's vital to understand how to write the best steps you can.

Each step is comprised of two parts:

  • Action - What should the tester do?
  • Yes or no Question - What should the tester see?

This simple format is easy for anyone on the team to write, but also easy to understand and execute.

How specific should my steps be?

Tests must be tightly focused on an specific process, but individual steps can be as high level or low level as you wish, depending on what you want to confirm.

Let's look at this test for a signup form.

If the only level of detail that is important to us is the successful creation of a new user, the following step would be perfectly fine:

Imagine instead that we need to validate the specific text entries in our signup process. We can expand our steps to whatever level of specificity we require.

Instead of vague instructions, we can use step variables or manually define discrete values for testers to enter. Ensuring correct enforcement of an email format or minimum password length, or confirming that the correct user details appear is as simple as 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 to get back from your testers.

How should I write my steps?

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

Some tips for writing awesome steps:

1. Draw attention to important terms with quotes.

Rainforest testers are trained to enter or look for terms in quotes exactly. This is a easy way to indicate to testers that you need to confirm that your copy is exact, or have them enter specific text into a field.

Instead of:


2. Indicate flexible content with an underscore '_'

Our testers are trained to match all of the text in quotes exactly, with ONE exception. Testers will accept any content replacing the placeholder: _ within a test step. Using a _ allows you to confirm content that is not always static, while still confirming exact text.

3. Eliminate jargon

The best Rainforest tests are free of jargon. We always imagine that we're writing our tests for our grandmothers to perform.

Take a look at the difference:


Grandmother approved:

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

4. Keep step instructions 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 in a single test, it's better to break them into two.

This is a little hard to follow:

This is much more clear!

5. Embed image and text files:

If you would like testers to look for something that might be difficult for them to understand or if it's complex for you to describe, consider adding an image into the step so they know exactly what to look for. The same works for a text fileā€”just drag and drop them into the step!

Questions? We're here to help!

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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