Making Screenshots in Bug Reports More Useful

This little guy saved me today.

An app I’ve been helping support has a long standing issue that generates useful bug reports like “I tried it and it doesn’t work”, and “the buttons don’t click”. Today a user sent a screen shot of the buttons not clicking. I almost didn’t open it but I’m glad I did. As soon as I opened it I saw that little guy with his arms up in the air and knew exactly what was wrong.

That little guy normally has his arms down, except when a side panel is open, and when that panel is open, there is a transparent overlay over the entire screen.

Having him raise his arms in the air was just a cute - and pointless - animation added for fun. But it was crucial in fixing a long standing bug, that has cost thousands of dollars in support.

Since then I’ve been thinking: Visually conveying application state, even in very subtle ways, could be incredibly useful for triaging bug reports. The average user rarely gives many details but they often submit a screen shot with their reports.

It would be easy to signify major applications states like “currently downloading stuff in the background”, or “user did not enable location tracking” with tiny visual elements. These little hints might not even be noticeable to users but could bring some context to otherwise useless bug reports.