Go where the website suggests

In the good old days of the Web 1.0 world, when something didn't go well you'd get the basic 404. On a fancy site, that 404 would perhaps be branded. In today's Web 2.0 world, 404 pages are often smart. They try to figure out what you were doing and suggest places where you might go next. It's a cool feature, and a great way to take what might have been a poor user experience and turn it into something positive.

However, it doesn't always work the way we intended. When sites suggest things to you, they can make mistakes. Therefore, I have a heuristic that I follow which says always go where the software suggests I go. Here's an example...

Last week while playing around with the new mint data website, I was greeted with the "City not found" page several times.


A feature of this page is that it suggests a page for your to visit next. Often, it's a state. However at point point I was able to get the site to suggest I view spending for the entire USA. Using my heuristic, I followed the link and was greeted with an excellent java exception.


Rewarded with this exception, I was able to determine that the site is written using Java (sprint and hibernate), runs on Apache (and the version of Apache). I also have suspicion of what to do next. After seeing this issue I started trying custom URLs and was able to get several different exceptions. Some of which gave me additional insight into the site structure and possible test ideas.