How to report a bug to your development team

As designers and developers, we deal with a lot of bug reports. Most of the time, these reports come during the design and development of a site. However, no matter how well-tested sites and apps are, once released into the wild, issues can sometimes be found that could not be anticipated. I know that this seems pretty basic, but it can be very useful.

Usually, the bug reports we get are pretty basic and leave lots of room for interpretation. We almost always have to go back to clarify certain things. There’s some very basic information you can provide that will help to speed up analysis and fixing of the issue.

1. Tell us what you were doing when the error occurred. Where were you trying to go in the site? What sequence of clicks or keystrokes provoked the error? Is it on every page or just a certain few?

2. (Perhaps most important.) Tell us what browser you were using. We also need to know what version the browser is. On a Mac, this will be up under the app menu, next to the Apple menu in the top left of the screen. On a PC, this is usually in the Help menu. No, I don’t know why this belongs here, but that’s where it is. Really. Generally speaking, most people will be using Safari, Chrome or Firefox on a Mac and these or Internet Explorer on a PC. If you’re on a mobile device, let us know that too.

3. What OS are you using and what version is it? This is especially important in the burgeoning smartphone marketplace.

4. Take a screenshot of the issue if it’s layout related. On a Mac, hit Command-Shift-3. The computer will save an image file to your desktop that can then be emailed. On a Windows machine, hit the Print Screen button, open Paint or another image/photo program and paste (Ctrl-V) the screenshot into the window and save it for emailing.

5. What screen resolution are you using? On both platforms, this info can be gleaned from the Displays control panel.

A few extra requirements for when you’re troubleshooting Flash issues

1. If the error occurs in a plugin like Flash, see if you can find anything out about the version of the plugin. You should be able to find plugin information in the menu system at the top of your screen. Every system is a bit different this way.

2. Let us know the brand of the machine, the processor type and speed and amount of RAM installed. Sometimes, especially with Flash, this can be an issue.

These little bits of information will help your development team to provide faster turnaround with bug fixes and other development issues. Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments.

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