Is there anything more annoying than waiting for what seems like an eternity for Spotify to open because your computer is running slow? Well, imagine hundreds of flights delayed or canceled due to a memory shortage in a $2.4 billion air traffic control system, and there you have it. Los Angeles International Airport’s ERAM system, developed by global aerospace and defense giant Lockheed Martin Corp, infamously crashed due to a simple glitch back in 2014. But the mishap highlights a situation that software developers like us know all too well: a client calling (or, in poor Lockheed Martin’s case, journalists) because there’s a problem with the product.
There’s no such thing as “bugless” software
And make no mistake: at one point or another, there will be a problem. Don’t get me wrong, whenever we start building a new application for a client, we want it to be nothing short of perfect. We imagine the product breezing through test runs without an issue. We picture users gleefully opening it, over and over again, until its name ultimately becomes a verb. But let’s face it: when you’re in the business of delivering digital solutions, to err is not only human. It’s inevitable. Even iOS updates, built and nurtured by thousands of engineers, come with a set of new performance and quality issues. Every. Single. Time.
So now that we’ve put the question of ‘if’ out of the way, let’s talk about ‘how bad’. The way we see it, not all bugs are created equal. Meaning instead of going into panic mode, we first take a good look at what we’re up against. Here’s our system for classifying bugs, aka:
Digital Natives’ Hierarchy of Bugs
- The Blockers. The nastiest kind there is. Blockers are serious hitches that can disrupt or nix the user experience altogether. Picture the sheer horror of 190 million people unable to share their morning thoughts on Twitter! They require immediate attention and a quick resolution.
- The Hiccups. Meaning delayed notifications, random reboots, slow system response times and so on. These are non-critical functional bugs that can still cramp the users’ style. After all, if we don’t post a photo of our lunch on Instagram, did it really happen?
- The Blemishes. You know the type. Think embarrassing typos, broken links, cosmetic bugs and what have you. Granted, no one’s day will ever be ruined over a misaligned heading on a mobile interface. But hey, we’re aiming for perfect, remember?
So what’s a bug in your dictionary?