This sponsored post is produced by BugHerd.

There are about a million and one bug trackers on the market, ranging from enterprise-scale behemoths to souped-up spreadsheets. While this staggering range of options has served development teams for decades, it’s becoming clear that the evolution of our development processes is outpacing those of our tools.

As web development, and particularly Internet startups, move toward 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’s ongoing. Most bug trackers focus on the task of cataloging issues; however, their usefulness depends 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 e-mail only to end up having to log all the issues yourself anyway. What makes this worse is that customers are often not technicalluy savvy. Getting the right information that is necessary to catalog 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 e-mail, more miscommunication, which results in both of you spending more time and potentially more money. Customer feedback should be a first-class citizen, not just an afterthought.

So it’s hardly surprising that according to a 2011 survey of web developers and designers*, more than 55 percent of respondents didn’t use any bug-tracking or issue-management systems when dealing with client feedback. The majority of digital agencies and startups actually still rely on using good old-fashioned e-mail (20 percent) or pen and paper (18 percent) 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 e-mail 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. While it’s great that 44 percent did utilize tools such as Basecamp or Google Docs, it scarily leaves 56 percent 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 among 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 catalog issues and errors. You must also consider the needs of your customers, your design team, and your 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.

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