How to create a badass bug report

A macro photo of a fly resting on what appears to be a leaf.

If you manage a website, a mobile app or a software platform you know that reporting bugs to your dev team is a part of life. But, did you know that it could be way easier and more efficient if you knew the best way to do it?

Get ready, we’re about to blow your mind.

First, you might be asking: "Why does it matter?" Certainly a reasonable question. Because it might seem like reporting the problem ASAP is the only requirement for fixing it. But, if your bug report is simply “This thing doesn’t work,” your dev team has to figure out all the details and it wastes time they could be spending fixing the problem. And, if you are paying external devs, that is costing you more time AND money.

Follow this simple guide to report bugs and your devs will think you are super smart and tech-savvy. (Ok, maybe not, actually, but you’ve got a shot.)

  • What is the environment you’re using?
    This includes the device you are using (specific laptop, phone, tablet, etc.), operating system and browser type and version. If you’re not sure where to find all this info, you can use an online tool like

  • What are the steps to reproduce the problem?
    The more detailed you can be, the better. The first step to fixing a bug is figuring out how to reproduce it. So, if you report step-by-step instructions, you have already completed step 1. If you can’t reproduce it, it still might be worth reporting, but note that it was a one-time blip.

  • What did you expect to happen?
    Be clear about the expected behavior. Describe how you think the thing should have worked. Be specific and try not to assume the intended recipient can read your mind. They can’t.

  • What actually happened?
    What went wrong? This is the easy part and usually the only thing reported in an average bug report. But, you’re way better than average, right.

  • For bonus points, send screenshots.
    Seeing an error message? Broken design elements? The wrong form behavior? A screenshot is worth a thousand words.

We’ve also put together a bug tracking spreadsheet you can find here. Feel free to make a copy and track your bugs or conduct website QA like a boss.

You might also find that your web developer wants more or less information - or that simple issues require simpler reporting. That’s all good. The most important thing is to be consistent and use a process everyone agrees on. Cool?