How Important is the Experienced End-User Tester in Software Testing?

Posted in Functional Testing | February 27, 2011 How Important is the Experienced End-User Tester in Software Testing?

With all the technologies in place today, it is a known fact that more and more software testing is being automated and the end user acceptance tester is often neglected and overlooked in the Software Testing process.

While automation can test the functionality of an application, nothing can take the place of the end user tester especially when testing Web Applications. Web Applications must have usability and functionality but it must also leave the end user satisfied.

Rarely is an application tested by Development as to whether or not the application is pleasing to the end user. This is where the experienced QA end user tester comes into play, because if the end user isn't satisfied they will find a comparable website that does satisfy their needs. Commands, input/output, and instructions need to be clear, concise and simple so the end user can navigate the application with ease and little confusion. This result requires an experienced "eye" to test for such issues. A defect in development usually deals with breakdown in code/functionality and would be detected by automation, but a defect found by the end user tester might not be uncovered in automation.

As stated in an article from Software Testing/Testing Evolution, "We desire to test for a good user experience and for a bad user experience, or a delightful user experience and an appalling user experience or a pleasing user experience and an annoying user experience. These adjectives are all fundamentally aesthetic judgments." For the most part this cannot be achieved solely with automation.

Experienced end user testers can offer valuable information based on years of experience as to what works and what doesn't work, and offer informal risk assessments based on their insight. The end user tester sees the application/product very differently than development. The end user tester is not focusing solely on code, complexity, or conformity but rather the aesthetics, the ease/difficulty in using/navigation through the application, and adhering to the business requirements and specifications.

Although development can develop the "perfect code" application, if the user is not pleased with the end product then the "perfection" doesn't sell the product. The human piece of software testing will be hard to ever cut out of the testing process as nothing can take the place of human eyes looking for flaws, defects, issues that code cannot detect. Just because a process works functionally does not mean hidden issues aren't lurking that an end user might find unacceptable. In the end, the end user or client must be satisfied in all realms of an application and that isn't possible without the interaction of the experienced end user tester.

Alicia M. Robertson is a certified Manual/Automated Tester for DeRisk IT Inc. She specializes in e-commerce and SEO testing, and has worked on numerous platforms of both Manual and Automated Testing. She is also effective in manual testing strategies and has a strong amount of experience with SmartBear's TestComplete in the e-commerce area.