‘Empathy’ puts a Tester in the users’ shoes

In-users-shoes-300x237At a recent  follow-up meeting, our client leader told my team that, in addition to being convinced of our excellent work in designing and executing test cases to assure quality for the applications, he also trusts blindly our ability to think as users and greatly values our skills in writing user manuals for the applications that we test. He believes, what really makes us good testers is our ability to put ourselves in the users’ shoes.

Generally speaking, it’s really disappointing to see test plans and reports failing (often) to appeal to the clients, just because the testers tend to work and see things from an IT professional’s perspective, and end up using too many IT jargons. This makes it difficult to communicate with the users, which is an extremely important aspect of any testing process. To address this common problem, our client has set a mandate to create user manuals while conducting tests. You may ask … why my team was given the responsibility? It’s because the manager of the client’s Software Department knows, we have the functional knowledge of the applications that are being tested and that we are capable of transmitting that knowledge to the user in a language he/she can understand.

This leads us to another important characteristic a tester should have: empathy. We can define this as the ability to understand exactly what someone else is feeling, because we have felt it or experienced it before. So, when we are writing a user manual or designing test cases, we have to leave behind our ‘IT hat’ and put on our ‘user hat.’ By doing this, we can be sure that the application works just as the user wants it to and that he/she really understands how to use it. The fact that we have been there ourselves and done what we expect the users to do, would help us ensure a great experience for them.

To sum up, if we ‘Testers’ can put ourselves into the users’ shoes, we’ll have happier customers and users at the end of the day.

This article was previously published in SogetiLabs Blog

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Paloma Rodriguez has been Test Engineer for Sogeti Spain since 2011. In this role, she manages testing projects and participates in various publications and training activities.

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