What Is Feature Testing & How it Works

QA developers must test new features before launching in order to prevent technical errors and provide a seamless user experience. Learn about what feature testing requires and how to execute it in your development process.

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What is Feature Testing? 

Feature testing is a step in the software development process in which software developers assess several different ways of implementing a key feature.  

It’s also an end-to-end test, which is a testing method that replicates user scenarios in order to validate the feature's integrity.

Usually, development teams conduct this using A/B/n testing — they create multiple versions of the feature in order to compare the functionality or user experience of each configuration. 

By doing this, software development teams are able to identify which variation will be most likely to accomplish their goals. 

They usually focus on how an actual user will interact with a feature in order to ensure that they provide the best experience possible before a product is launched. 

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Why is Feature Testing Important? 

Feature testing is a key part of the development process because it ensures the quality and functionality of the product. 

Feature testing helps developers: 

  1. Determine whether a features satisfies business requirements
  2. Validate configurations
  3. Discover bugs
  4. Continue to iterate
  5. Ensure the feature is ready for delivery

Determine whether a feature satisfies business requirements

Occasionally, software developers and web designers create features under the assumption that it will solve a specific problem or help them reach a certain goal. However, after it has been implemented, they may find that feature isn’t effective. 

If a user doesn’t understand how to operate the function, it’s useless. Developers must ensure that each feature is intuitive and easy to use in order for it to satisfy their business requirements. 

For example, in 2013 Facebook rolled out a UI layer that would provide feed updates on users’ locked phones. Called Home, the platform was a complete flop. 

Facebook Home Example
Source:CB Insights

Users found the new Facebook product to be confusing, difficult to navigate, and intrusive. Even after many different iterations, Facebook Home wasn’t able to gain much success. With proper feature testing, they may have been able to resolve some of the usability issues. 

By testing each feature, development teams can isolate variables and test the performance of the feature itself. In doing so, they will improve functionality before the product has been rolled out. 

Validate configurations

By running A/B/n tests, developers can determine the best approach when building a new feature. This allows them to test how each configuration performs under different conditions so they can provide the best user experience. 

Discover bugs

Feature testing can also reveal bugs or issues that may not have appeared in standard testing. 

Additionally, when software companies launch new features for a legacy program, the feature may create new issues. Instead, feature testing will help companies predict these issues before they’re rolled out to the public. 

In 2008, Blackberry launched a new smartphone to compete with the ever-popular iPhone. However, the device was riddled with technical issues and software bugs. As a result, many people decided to return the phone. 

Blackberry example

Proper testing would have revealed these issues and possibly resulted in more commercial success. Years later, in early 2022, Blackberry decommissioned all phone software, marking the end of what was the most popular phone in the early 2000s. 

Continue to iterate 

In addition to finding issues with new features, feature testing provides an opportunity for improvement. Software developers can continue to test new ways to execute each feature. Over time, they will be able to reiterate the program with different configurations. 

By doing this, they’ll be able to identify the best way to configure new features in order to meet their business objectives. 

Ensure the feature is ready for delivery 

If all goes according to plan, companies will be able to roll out a new feature, confident that it will perform well under various circumstances. 

Thorough testing is key to ensure a seamless implementation and roll out. As a result, companies will be able to meet user expectations and provide a superior UX. 

How to Test a New Feature

  1. Understand the purpose of the new feature
  2. Determine how the feature fits in with the existing program
  3. Create different testing scenarios and outline a testing strategy
  4. Perform regression testing on the entire application
  5. Iterate as necessary

Understand the purpose of the new feature

Companies need to clearly define the functionality of the feature to make sure their testing will match their objectives. For example, software developers adding a search feature should be able to identify what value this feature would add  for users. Maybe they’ll be able to find documents sooner, identify technical issues, or pull user information. 

Once they’ve identified the purpose of the new feature, companies must document business requirements associated with it. This will help the development team test the feature effectively. 

Determine how the feature fits in with the existing program

By adding new features, developers may impact other aspects of the existing program. To prevent any issues stemming from the rollout of a new feature, developers must first ask: How does it relate to other existing features? 

By adding new features, companies risk creating errors or adding to feature creep. 

Feature creep is the continuous expansion or addition of new features in software. In these instances, too many layers of code can overcomplicate the software, slow the product down, and make it difficult for users to navigate the platform. 

Feature testing can prevent errors and feature creep by ensuring that the new feature will add more value for customers and prevent technical issues. 

Pro Tip: Be sure to document how the new feature will interact with other features on the platform so it can easily be reconfigured and adjusted. 

Create different testing scenarios 

Testers should develop several variations of their test scenarios. Feature testing scenarios describe any actions that users might undertake when using the software. Creating and testing these variations ensures that everything will work as expected once the features have been rolled out. 

QA testers and development companies can get a better understanding of what these scenarios are by watching how users interact with the software or asking them how they use the software. 

Perform regression testing on the entire application

Once you’ve tested new features according to the scenarios you’ve outlined, QA testers need to conduct regression testing on the entire app. 

Regression testing confirms that new code changes associated with the  new feature have not adversely affected other features within the software program. 

Instead of retesting everything, QA testers should prioritize test cases or select a subset of features that may have been affected by the update.  

Iterate as necessary

Once QA specialists have gone through the feature test, they’ll be able to identify how the new feature will impact the platform’s overall performance. If the scenarios they test continue to cause issues, they may want to try new variations. 

However, if they’re unable to find any issues associated with the new feature, they can determine a launch plan and move forward with rolling it out. 

Additional reading, ‘10-Step Product Launch Checklist’

Feature Testing Is Necessary Before Rolling Out New Features 

When companies add new features to their software or mobile apps, they risk creating new technical issues or adding to feature creep. By testing their features, they can find bugs and determine the best way to configure the feature. 

In doing so, they will ensure that the new feature meets their business requirements and is valuable for users. As a result, they will be able to provide a better user experience overall.

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