Everyone is a Tester

One thing that has been on my mind a lot lately has been the code testing process.  Often time you will see blog posts from engineers talking about the importance of doing unit tests, or having good test plans for your QA team when you had a completed feature over to them.  Today however I want to chat a bit about a different kind of testing – one that actually requires you to ignore unit tests and test plans – and approach your product or code as a user.  Does it pass the user based test.

Often times as engineers we forget about the importance of this type of testing.  Many times we assume that our Product Managers or other leaders in the product have already hashed this out.  The reality is that your are not only an engineer – but you are a user as well.

A team I was on in the past had a mantra that basically meant “Everyone is a Tester”.  In a nutshell it meant that everyone on the team – from the managers, to the engineers, to the artists, to the interns were all responsible for the quality of the site.  Every person was responsible for putting aside a certain amount of time each week to use the product as a user.  Take notes on what they like and dislike.  Even if they didn’t have answers on exactly how to fix it at that particular time, articulate what exactly is not enjoyable or gets in their way.

When was the last time you looked at your product or result of your code strictly from a user perspective?  If you are the type that has a difficult time thinking about this in a constructive or rationale way – Ask yourself the following questions to help prompt feedback:

  1. Are there any tasks that require steps that could be condensed down? (i.e. if it takes 3 steps to sign-up for a newsletter – can it be compressed down to 2 steps or 1 step).
  2. What pages do your users land on off of the search engines and referral links?  Are there clear and visible call to actions on that landing page?
  3. On every page of your site – do you understand what you should (or shouldn’t) be doing as a user?
  4. Is your navigation clear and easily assessable?
  5. What elements are distracting to you as a user (pop ups, bad color schemes, annoying ads, broken code, etc…)?

I encourage you to adopt the mantra of “Everyone is a Tester”.  I believe it will bring amazing results across your product.  After all – if you are not in love with the product that you are engineering – who will be?

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