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Testing: Users lacking knowledge are the greatest users of them all

Before submitting an app to Apple I decided to hand it over to my wife. Now my wife isn’t a programmer but is an avid web user, but, putting the app in her hands for 10 minutes identified some seriously crucial, but lacking usability features.

Programmers write code and they write this code day in, day out. They know how the app should work and test based on how the app should be used. I used to do this myself and the majority of programmers I know do the same thing. I’m afraid this is wrong and programmers need to learn to step out of the box.

Programmers have something they need to learn and that’s usability testing. While I’m certain others may disagree, us programmers have a thing or two to learn from the average joe on the street, whether directly or indirectly.

The more a programmer writes the more the programmer becomes too familiar with the application (Whether system or web based). This familiarity can shadow your judgment and testing. While your testing may be valid, the system needs to be tested by someone who doesn’t know how it is supposed to work, but rather how they would expect it to work.

How a user expects an application to work is extremely important and is something the average programmer lacks knowledge off. Of course, by having others test your app you can adopt how they test in future releases and builds.

So, next time you are testing something, give your partner or friend a brief overview and ask them to have a play. Their thoughts may well do wonders for the usability of your app and they’re likely to notice things you have not. A fresh pair of eyes is a lending hand.

Posted in Development on the 22nd November 2010

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