When testing any piece of software not only does it need to function correctly to produce the desired solution but also needs to be user friendly. If word gets out that your software is hard to use or confusing then users will look for other solutions.
After working in IT support for a number of years I have seen a range of reactions to software problems from users. Confident computer users will try to figure out problems themselves, often delving into configuration files with a varying degree of success. On the other hand less confident users will be scared away by big red error messages demanding they fill out a form right or a simple confirmation message asking “Are you sure?” demanding a simple “Yes” or “No” answer. Making sure that your confident users don’t corrupt a database and a nervous user is not scared off by error messages can be a fine balance.
When I am testing any software I like to make sure that this balance has been taken into consideration. A developer may think “Well, who is going to do that?” but have them sit next to any IT support agent answering calls from these users they will soon see that you can “Never say never” when it comes to computer users. This is why, as software developers, it is important that every level of user is kept in mind.
Working as a QA tester means ensuring that the solutions that we produce offer this balance. I try to make sure that the users of our software are guided in the right direction without being hit by everything at once. Errors are going to happen. When they do, it is important that end users can use them to solve problems. In cases where this is not possible they should try to provide enough information to staff in support roles to know where to start looking to get their users back up and running as quickly as possible.
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