How To Explain Your Website Issue to a Developer

michael

Have you ever had an issue with your website and you tried telling your web developer about it? Did it end up turning into a 10 – 20 email exchange on just trying to describe the exact problem? If that sounded like your recent transaction, we hope you gave up and just picked up the phone or do a screen sharing to figure the issue out instead.

But if you want to write less email and improve on describing your website issues over email, I’ll go over some tips to help you out. Use it as a checklist next time you send out an email about a website issue you are experiencing.

EXPLAIN THE ISSUE AND STEPS TO RECREATE IT

Start out by explaining the issue as exact as possible. If you are experiencing issues filling out a form, write down what you are experiencing issues filling out a form and include the link to the form. If you filled out everything correctly and no errors show up but the form isn’t sending when you click submit, write that down. If you have any other details, attach those at the end.

If you can breakdown the steps to recreate the issue consistently, please do so. Example:

  1. Clicked Application Form on Home Page Navigation
  2. Filled out Name, Subject, and Comment.
  3. Pressed Submit.
  4. Nothing Happens.

This will let developers know how to create the issue just as you have experienced it.

WHAT IS THE EXPECTED BEHAVIOR?

Write down the expected behavior of the issue. Such as, if the form on the page is supposed to submit and send the user to a thank you page, write down in the email, “The expected behavior of the page is to send the user to a thank you page.” Try to write as much detail as to what the issue is supposed to do. This will allow developers to know when the issue is solved.

TAKE A SNAPSHOT

Include a snapshot or a screen shot of the region of the page that is having the issue. If you can capture the issue in one image, what would that be? If you have an alignment issue, or an image overlapping and covering some text, take a screen shot of it. You can usually take a Snapshot of the issue by pressing the PrintScreen Key on your keyboard. Bonus points if you can highlight the effect region with a box.

WHAT, WHEN, & WHERE

It is also a great idea to include what device you are using. If you had the issue on your iPad, write that down. If you were on a Mac, make a note. Also include what version of the device and os you are using, such as, iPad 2 or Mac Book Pro running Mountain Lion. Also include the web browser you were running, such as Safari or Chrome and what version of the browser.

Include when did it happen and where? If you were in China and having an issue on October 14, 2013 at 8 am, tell us. Location and time can further help debugging certain kinds of issues, most notable, access and content propagation.

COMPILED

So after you have all the details nailed down to your issue, try to compile it into one email or document. It’ll save everyone time when referring back to the issue. Here’s a fake example issue of everything compiled into one place:

Subject: Having Issue with the Contact Form on October 08, 2013 at 2:00 am.

Looks like there is an issue with the Contact Form at http://www.readyartwork.com/contact. I can’t seem to submit the form because I can’t see the button to submit.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Clicked Contact on Home Page Navigation.
  2. Filled out all the fields.
  3. Can’t submit, there is no button.

Expected Behavior: There should be a button or way to submit the form and lead to a thank you page for successfully submitting the form.

What: Using my iPad 4 on Safari running iOS7.

When: October 08, 2013 at 2:00 am Local Time

Where: San Gabriel, CA, USA

Please see attached image for what I’m talking about.