This is a sponsored post by our friends at BugHerd.

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There are about a million and one bug trackers on the market. Ranging from enterprise­scale behemoths to souped up spreadsheets and everything in between. While this staggering range of options has served development teams for decades it is becoming clear that our evolution of our development processes is outpacing those of our tools.

As web development, and particularly internet startups, move towards iterative cycles with a focus on the customer, sourcing feedback has shifted from being an activity carried out at the start and end of development to one that is ongoing throughout the life of a project. Most bug trackers focus on the task of cataloguing issues, however, their usefulness is wholly dependent on the quality of bug reports being submitted, and herein lies the problem.

Your customers don’t want to file bug reports, they just want their problems solved.

There’s no way to get a customer to log their bug into your tool of choice, so inevitably you spend hours deciphering problems from emails only to end up having to log all the issues yourself anyway. Making matters worse is the fact that often customers are non­technical. Getting the right information that is necessary to catalogue an issue can be like getting blood from a stone.

The worst part is that often the process doesn’t solve the problem the customer had in the first place, it creates another one, more emails, more miscommunication and results in both of you spending more time and potentially more money. Customer feedback should be a first class citizen, not just an afterthought.

It’s hardly surprising then, that according to a 2011 survey of web developers and designers* more than 55% of respondents didn’t use a bug tracking or issue management system at all when dealing with client feedback. The majority of digital agencies and startups actually still rely on using good old fashioned email (20%) or pen and paper (18%) to log and resolve problems reported by customers! It’s clear that there is opportunity for teams to investigate capturing customer feedback in a less onerous and manual way.

Think about how many times you have gone back and forth repeatedly with a customer? In trying to work out exactly what the issue is, are you frequently missing essential information such as exactly what page the bug is on, what browser they’re using, or even their operating system or screen resolution? Trying get answers to these questions in emails can lead to miscommunication, frustration and a lot of wasted time.

You need a tool that provides this relevant information along with the bug report.

If your customers or stakeholders are less than technical minded, you may want to consider the benefits of a hosted bug tracking solution. As there is no installation, it’s easy for those with limited computer knowledge to get up and running and without the usual technical training required. Hosted products usually supply a collection of helpful online guides to get even novice users involved. For the technical team, there are no updates to install, the software should be constantly improving/updated and infrastructure costs are reduced. There is also the benefit of easy collaboration for geographically disperse teams which is critical given the rise in telecommuting and international teams.

A secondary part of the survey queried designers about which tools were used to manage internal tasks. Whilst it’s great that 44% did utilise tools such as Basecamp or Google Docs, it scarily leaves 56% with no formal means of managing projects or tracking issues internally. Considering the majority of more traditional software engineers are using bug trackers like JIRA, Redmine or Pivotal, it’s disconcerting that amongst web developers traditional bug tracking tools are still not prevalent. There are an increasing number of “simple” bug trackers available which are better suited to the needs of the web developer/designer, just ensure your projects aren’t stuck in a silo; integrations with legacy tools such as JIRA are a must.

The list can be very long and searching for the right bug tracking tool can be tedious. As you can see, a bug tracker needs to provide far more than being merely a place to catalogue issues and errors. You must also consider the needs of your customers, your design team and stakeholders, not just the engineers.

BugHerd is currently available on a free trial for 14 days and we think you’ll love it for your bug tracking and client feedback capture needs.

* 2011 Survey conducted by UsabilityHub of 11,000 members, split evenly between designers, front­-end developers and UX experts.

BugHerd was born in 2011 out of the desire to be able to visually manage and track bugs on a website. Users embed the application directly into a website, so bugs are flagged and managed visually (complete with screenshot) without the need to fill out lengthy forms or send emails back and forth to clients. Simply put, BugHerd is the fastest and simplest bug tracking tool available for the web.

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