Teaching, Promoting, Cheering UX and SEO Since 2002

Software QA Testing and the Impatient End-User

I’m one of those folks who doesn’t read the directions first when I get something new. Ninety percent of the time I just plug it in and turn it on, and whatever happens, happens. I’m so famous in my house for not stopping long enough to learn how to use something new, that my husband or kids will take “the new thing” out of my hands if they see me with it.

We discovered that big, fat logs aren’t appropriate for the wood stove in my office. That’s because I nearly burned the house down.

When my ex-husband and I bought our first house in 1991, after a million years of renting, I was faced with my first very own clothes washer and dryer. We had moved into a brand new townhouse development, so the realtor was still close by on site, selling more units. It was he who I called, in an absolute panic, because I couldn’t get the brand new washer to work. He ran over, and moved the nob over a teeny, weeny bit. It started right up.

You should see the look on Eric or Stefan’s faces when I offer to shave the hair on the back of their necks.

When I was being trained in Quality Assurance software testing, the part that drove me the most nuts was the discipline of truly understanding how an application is expected to work. We were expected to document every molecule of it, every step by step path to make it work, for all the various functions it was built to handle. I consistently raced to the end to see what any new functionality could do, without first learning how to do it properly, or as the developers expected or wished it to be done.

This actually turned out to be a great thing. If Kim could blow it up, it stood to reason that others could too. I eventually learned how to purposely crash applications, though I’m not convinced it was all purely on purpose. I think I have a natural “Calamity Jane” gene somewhere. However, better to get the kinks worked out before the customer gets it.

So it was that I excitedly made a recording of a live user operating a website using Camtasia without really reading the instructions first. I scanned them instead. I’ve been using Internet software for what, 12 years now? I should be able to spot the common steps.

Wrong. Sure, I got it to work. The beauty of an application is when the buttons and functions are simple and obvious. However, in this particular application, there are many ways you can save the recording, especially if you want to show it to somebody.

That’s the part I skimmed over. I saved my cherished recording in a format that was impossible to email to anyone, and impossible to view without a way to execute it on their end. Since I had made the recording for someone, it was embarressing to have to say, “I have this really cool thing to show you, except I can’t show it to you.”

I eventually found a way, that requires that they get the trial version so they can view the recording, which is thankfully free. But the point is, if I’d just stopped being in a rush, I would have caught the part in the directions that said, “Choose your format first.” I saw it, but figured it could be converted later.

I’m a software developer’s worst nightmare. And their perfect end user. So many times I create user personas who are methodical, logical, particular, fanatical about detail and take their time. In other words, the perfect user. In the real world, there are more people like me who think we already know everything, or just have no patience to learn the right steps first, or follow directions.

We yearn to make the thing go boom.

Tagged, Again

I was tagged, again, by one of my hero’s in the industry, Rosie Sherry, who was kind enough to alert me that the search function on this blog wasn’t working. I yanked it and will likely go with the funky new Google Custom Search instead.

Since I was already tagged, I decided to dedicate this post to her, and software developers and QA Engineers everywhere. They make the Internet rock by taking dreams and ideas and putting them into reality.

And less you think I’m flirting with guys here (which is fun of course), allow me to point you all to a project Rosie is working on, called Brighton Girl Geek Dinners. She writes,

A Girl geek is someone who is female and has an interest in technology, particularly computing and new media. Not necessarily technically minded.

Don’t you just want to tip over those rocks?

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