Usability & Accessibility – The Crucial Ingredients for Software
Do you like great interiors and ambiance at hotels or restaurants you visit? Well, you could co-relate this to, food being functional and interiors and ambiance adding up to usability which adds value to dining experience. It’s could be the same thing with software. This article emphasizes on, usability being crucial testing for any software that is designed and developed for people around the world or people of specific location or could be anything. Usability is a deeper study and testers who say, “Oh, usability is to see if application is user friendly – Agreed” but, I do not buy when they say, “And it’s easy to do”. Yes, the hard truth is; it is not easy and has never been easy. It’s the testers who lack knowledge comment incorrectly saying its cakewalk or it’s easy.
Why do I call usability as crucial ingredient for software?
It is because, you want to;
a. Win more customers
b. Win over your competitors
c. Make your competitors customers as your customers
d. Give better user experience for your customers
e. Want to make more business and increase your revenues
f. Make people spread a word about your software
g. Ultimately, to do a GREAT BUSINESS!
If your answer is yes for all these or at least most of these, then this is it! Time to invest time, efforts in learning about usability by reading books, using more and more software(s) to get idea of what could be better, thinking on how something good could be made much better – Well, that’s what I call innovation in the areas of usability.
Frequently asked questions,
a. What skills have you (Santhosh Tuppad) got?
Somehow, I have got the skill of analyzing, “What could be good” for end-users and most of the times I have made a success in my thinking. However, there is bad side of it when you just start being biased by your thoughts of usability rather than seeing it from customers point of view. I have seen testers saying, “You got to put yourself into customers shoes” and then test for usability. Well, its easy to say; but very much challenging to do it. Your customers might range from — Millions, billions, trillions of end-users with different brains, different thinking abilities, and different way of using software. Now, you see, “Wow, this is real challenging”. If you still do not feel it, then either you do not want to accept it or you do not understand it. Continue to do your functional testing. Most of the organizations are happy with it.
I have cultivated a practice of arguing with my own thoughts about usability. I have seen at times, when my colleagues just agreed whatever I said but, I go back and think on those lines. Finally, I get better approach that what I really said. So, that’s the thinking power. Do not stop just because people stopped arguing with you. You argue with your own thoughts or you say to yourself, there is something better I can do rather than sticking to my old ideas.
b. What books do you read / how do you practice usability?
a. Psychology reference book
b. http://useit.com/ and http://boxesandarrows.com/ are good ones to refer (Be careful, you need not agree with everything these people are telling. There need to be your own thinking, that’s when you could make things better rather than following someone else’s ideas blindly. Here, you will see how I opposed the idea of Jakob Nielsen – http://useit.com/ however; I refer to it for some cool study).
c. I design websites (Well, buggy ones)
d. I interact with UI / UX designers
e. I attend conferences on UI / UX
f. I keep myself updated with new technologies which could add value to software when implemented or when enhanced
g. I co-related usability with the things in day to day life. I do exercises with the things around me about usability.
c. Are you a usability expert?
No, do not give me that tagline. There is much more of study that is pending for me to do an awesome usability testing. Well, when I say No! It means I keep raising my bars for expert but, for some people I am expert in their own opinion. In that way, the answer is both; Yes and No.
d. Do you do workshops or talks or would be interested in guiding me?
Some people asked me for workshop and I said, “Not as of now” because of a reason that, “I am still not capable to do that in the areas of usability” where I could deliver good enough workshop. In future, I will be.
With respect to talks, I can do that if someone from organization invites me to do it. It could half-day or 2 hours tips on usability.
With respect to mentoring or guiding someone, I feel I am running out of my bandwidth as there are many people who are approaching me for security testing. However, I could support you people over e-mails but, do not expect quick replies. I would at least take 1 week however; you might receive responses at the earliest in few hours or minutes as well.
e .My management is not serious about it or developers just reject the usability bugs I report?
This is classical problem that most of the testers find. Here are some tips that might make them serious about it (Even if not all of them, at least few. Even if you could change ones thinking, then you have made a better impact).
1. Build a good rapport with your manager and make him / her understand about usability and its importance.
2. Conduct a meeting with your team members and speak to them about usability and how to report them (Bug Advocacy)
3. Even if developers reject your bugs, there should be a genuine reason and not just like that. Keep reporting even if they reject. All the testers in your team should report huge number of usability bugs and then I bet they will not reject them or higher management looks into them because so many bugs are being rejected. At least, you will not be pointed when customer reports the same usability bug which you wanted to report but, you were biased with the developer rejecting it and did not report.
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