Test for "ubiquitous" features

This morning I saw mint data for the first time. I love playing with software like this - this is cool stuff. Within a couple of searches (less then five) I found a couple of different issues I'd call bugs. All of them were found using a technique I call testing for "ubiquitous" features.

A ubiquitous feature is one that exists "everywhere." You don't question if it's actually a feature, you just assume it is. An example is using quotes in a search field. After using search engines for the last ten years, you just have some basic assumptions around how search works.

So this morning on mint data, I tested with quotes in my search. Once I performed that search, the interface completely froze up. I had to reload the site to get and new search to work. It was only later that I noticed that this feature is even illustrated in the mint data example search text.

default search criteria for mint dataOther search features caused similar issues. When you think about the application you're testing, it's sometimes useful to understand how users will map their existing expectations onto your application (which they likely don't understand yet) and how that will drive what they will assume it will do.