Human-centered bug reporting with visual elements

Especially in the last couple of months, the web has a become a more visual place. GIFs, memes, emojis, screenshots and other visual elements are widely used on the web today.

Not only used in private conversations, visual elements are reshaping other areas, such as bug reporting as well.

In this article, I’m going to focus on the role of humans in bug reporting and answer the question about the role of visual elements in bug reports.

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Rethinking bug reporting

Being part of the Usersnap team, I care a lot about bug reports. And the trends related to bug reporting. One thing is very clear for me: Bug reporting is personal.

Visual elements help us express feelings and situations which were not possible in that way just a few years ago.

emojis in bug reports

It is about conversations, not tickets.

According to one of my prior articles, a bug report is a written and formal document which explains how exactly something is broken.

A bug report needs to be filed when something (e. g. a product, website or software) is not working as designed.

So, a bug report is a certain form of communication between the person encountering an error and the person being responsible for causing the error.

A bug report is a form of conversation. It’s not a ticket.

visual bug reporting communications

Human-centered bug reporting

In the last few years, we read a lot about user- or human-centric design. According to different definitions, it’s all about the extensive attention given to the end user of a product during the design process.

As someone who can’t imagine any product development without paying close attention to the end users (who are probably the ones paying the bills), this concept seems like a no-brainer.

However, looking at some of the existing bug reporting tools and -workflows which are out there, I do get the feeling that a lot of those tools and workflows are not designed for the end-user.

Reporting a bug shouldn’t be rocket science.

Reporting bugs is all about humans. Knowing how your user feels about certain things will make your actions more efficient.

In the old days, bug reports looked like this (and I am afraid that in some companies they still do look like this):

bug report template old

As you can see, these bug reports do not add any information that could help the receiver to understand how the person reporting the problem felt.

By adding feelings and emotions to bug reports, I believe that people will have a much better experience in reporting bugs than without.

And as a matter of fact, visual communication with screenshots, images or emojis are a faster, easier and way more effective way than via plain text.

charts for visual bug reporting and communication

Bug reports as room for communication

Reporting bugs requires the ability to identify relevant information which needs to be added to every bug report. So a bug report always creates new room for communication.

bug reporting land

A bug’s land as room for communication

This room of communication might consist of some misunderstandings (for example in form of missing information).

  • Therefore, this room of communication must be filled with questions like these:
  • Who are the testers and developers in charge?
  • What’s the best & defined form of communication for collaborating on bugs and errors?
  • Which kind of information goes into the bug reporting tool?

Bug reports with a human side

Especially when things go the wrong way (which they normally do when you have to file a bug report), we need to show humanity inside bug reports.

A bug report not only gives you the chance to get some insights from your customers or users but also enables you to build up a relationship.

The problem, however, is that many people encountering a bug do not have the time and/or technical knowledge to get super-detailed on the “What happened?” and “Where did it happen?”

So, don’t make your users even feel worse by pointing out how bad their filed bug report is.

Listening to them first, and then shifting the conversation and the tone of the bug report can potentially turn an angry user into an insightful customer.

bug report template

Next level of bug reporting

So what does the future of bug reporting look like? I think it’s a pretty glorious one. Bug reporting is still known for it’s lengthy & formal bug report forms which need to be filled out. In the near future, we will see more and more visual elements popping up in bug reports as they are making the realm of bug reporting not only more efficient but also more fun.

This article was brought to you by Usersnap – best known for its visual Bug tracking and user feedback tool, which is employed by web developers, web designers, and customer care managers worldwide. Usersnap serves 10,000 customers globally, including companies such as Microsoft, Facebook, Hawaiian Airlines, and Runtastic.

manage web projects - usersnap

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