When Gmail first hit the scene in 2004, the company promoted a whole slew of unprecedented features like threaded conversations, 1-gig storage (unheard of at the time), Google-powered search, and even labels.
What ultimately won me over, however, was the spam protection – a feature already available in most email platforms, but Gmail’s protection really blew me away.
When Betty Crocker began promoting its instant cake mix to busy housewives during the 1950s, sales were unimpressive. Then marketing guru, Ernest Dichter, recommended that the company abandon the powdered eggs already included in the mix and require that users be required to add a real egg. He argued that this simple step would help validate the user’s role in the process and move the entire recipe one step closer to “homemade.” Sales skyrocketed after that.
When shopping for a new car, you’d think that mileage, sound systems, comfort, price, or aesthetics would be the #1 feature. But up until 2007 (before the recession hit), PriceWaterhouseCoopers reported that cup holders were the #1 most important feature for the average American car shopper. You heard me correctly – the little inset hole for morning coffee seemingly trumped all other considerations.
What all these stories have in common is an emphasis on those little things – the non-requested features – those throwaway ideas that get added at the last minute after all of the major improvements have been addressed.

The Little Things in Software Test Case Management Platforms

This is a phenomenon that we’re all too familiar with at Testuff (in fact, we’ve blogged about this before).
Every month, like clockwork, we release a new and updated software test management version, complete with a bulleted list of the most important changes (we just hit the 50th consecutive monthly release in February 2013). And like any marketing copy, these lists are typically ordered by importance – i.e. the impact we feel that they will have on our users.
90% of the time, we’re dead-on in our assessment. No big surprise since we make a habit of incorporating the most requested features from our community. But every now and then, the real game changers are those last-minute additions we only implement because we have the extra bandwidth for that particular month.
And the feedback from our users ranges from pleasant surprise to life-saving gratitude.
It’s truly remarkable how those little things that we add to our test case management software can have such a powerful impact on ease and productivity.
Below are just a few examples from experience:

  • Next/Previous in the Test Runner and Test Editor
  • Edit a test while running it
  • Right-click option to assign a test to a tester, in a lab, directly from the Tests screen
  • Copy to clipboard (test id is one example for this one)

There are no obvious takeaways from this. We can’t deliberately weave in these seemingly minor gems since they are, by their very nature, wholly unanticipated. There’s no way for us to determine their influence during the design phase. Rather, they are pleasant surprises that emerge organically from time to time and catch all of us off-guard.
What we can do, however, is to continue to improve Testuff’s test case management software as much as possible – always focusing on the big improvements first. And then when possible, devote some time to those little things – the cup holders, eggs, and spam – that have the potential to unexpectedly but dramatically alter the software testing landscape.
While deliberate planning of these “little things” is impossible, we always try to keep the end-user in mind, constantly looking for ways to make his or her job easier.