Have you ever needed to report an issue to a web developer before?
How did it go? Did the developer understand what the issue was? Were they able to resolve the problem straight away? Or was there a lot of going back and forth to finally get the problem resolved?
If your problem was resolved straight away then that’s great news!
However, if it wasn’t, then I understand this must have been frustrating for you. But was there anything you could have done differently yourself to help with the reporting of this issue?
As a developer, I want to help you to get to the bottom of your problem just as much as you do. But in order to resolve the issue I need as much information as possible. It’s not enough to say “There’s a link on my website that’s broken”. That doesn’t give me anything to work with!
In this post I’m going to show you exactly how to report a problem with a website to a developer and all the information that you should provide.
When reporting an issue to a developer, please provide the following…
The URL of the exact page
It is important to provide the URL of the exact page where the issue is occurring, not just the URL of the website. If it’s occurring on multiple pages, still provide a URL and specify that it is occurring on multiple pages.
A detailed description
Describe to your developer exactly what the problem is and be as descriptive as you possibly can. In order to resolve an issue, a developer will need to replicate a scenario so that they can see exactly what you are seeing.
Where on the page is the issue occurring? The header? The footer? In a particular section with a certain heading? Is it happening all the time, or only now and then? Does the issue only occur when you first load the website, or is it constant? Is there a particular action leads to the problem occurring, such as clicking, hovering, scrolling, etc?
I understand that describing a problem on a website can be difficult, especially if you don’t know all the correct terminology. This is why I often ask my clients to provide a screenshot of the problem if that is possible. Screenshots can provided answers that descriptions alone cannot. As they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words”.
I use a tool called Skitch to create all of my screenshots. I love Skitch because it allows me to highlight and annotate a screenshot to make my point as clear as possible.
…or a video
Sometimes a screenshot is not enough. Sometimes a problem is only revealed when action is taken, such as when you click on or hover over something.
You could use some screen capture software to create a short video. Alternatively, you could record and create a GIF that demonstrates the problem. I use a free piece of software called ScreenToGif to do this. You simply record you carrying out the action then export the video as a GIF.
I’ve started using GIFs in my blog post because I think they’re a great way to easily demonstrate actions.
You should always tell your developer what device you are viewing the website on. Websites can vary massively from one device to the next, and in some cases, an issue may only occur on certain devices or screen sizes.
Try to be as specific as possible. Don’t just say “mobile” or “tablet”. Tell them what phone you are using (iPhone 8, Samsung Galaxy S9, Google Pixel, etc), or which tablet (iPad, iPad mini, Amazon Kindle, etc).
If you are viewing it on a desktop computer or laptop let the developer know the screen dimensions and resolution if possible. Also let them know if you are using a PC or a Mac as sometimes this can make a difference.
The browser and version
If you are viewing your website on a computer rather than a handheld device, I always advise that you provide your developer with details of the browser you are viewing the page in (i.e. Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, Edge, Firefox, etc).
Also, provide the version number of the browser if you can. Sometimes browsers won’t update automatically (even experienced developers get caught out by this) so you may be using an outdated version which your developer might not be using.
This clever website will tell you which browser and version you are using without having to dig into the settings section of your browser.
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