What every software tester should know about Usability Testing?

The more you know, the better

A software tester is definitely one of those professions in which the more you know, the better.

And it is not only about specialized domain knowledge, but also a wide range of skills in related fields. There are no competencies that can harm a tester. Any knowledge and skills help in being a better tester.

Different skills in each project

Due to the fact that as a tester we may come across various projects, gaining knowledge and skills in different areas is crucial. Of course, the skills required as a tester depend on the company we work for and the specifics of the job.

If it is a single, long-term project, project knowledge may be our greatest asset. But if we frequently change projects, the demand for a wide range of skills increases.

Sometimes tester needs to create a test database, other times test an API in Postman, and the next time checks compliance with the provided design.

T-shaped model

Often when talking about software tester development, the T-shaped model is mentioned.

It illustrates the main specialization within the broadly understood testing and other extra skills useful for the position of a software tester, not only strictly connected with testing.

For instance, these may be skills in security testing or performance testing, but they may also be analytical, the management or design skills.

Usability testing roles

There will be a 3% year-on-year growth (through 2028) in demand for industrial UX designers. [The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics]

With the growing popularity and demand for UX Designers and the general awareness of the impact of user experience on product success, knowledge of this area may be increasingly in demand for testers.

There are already many job offers for software tester positions with requirements related to knowledge of UX principles.

UX User Experience Designer

There are actually many activities and areas that now also have their equivalents of separate, specialized professions, such as UX Researcher, Product Designer, UX Copywriter.

UX has a lot of terms, but it mainly boils down to evoking the best possible user experience when using a product.

User experience is influenced by many factors, such as usability, functionality, reliability, ease of use, intuitive navigation, accessibility, product enjoyment.

Focus on End Users

To design a product that meets the above criteria we need to know and understand the end-user very well.

We need to know who we are designing for in order to know how to design. It takes a lot of empathy and knowledge of the basics of cognitive psychology to understand some mechanisms which guide the users.

The product should respond as well as possible to the problems and needs of the users.

The knowledge of User Experience in at least basic, minimal level is extremely useful, and I would even be tempted to say that it is essential for anyone working on the creation of any product.

Benefits of knowing the principles and methods of User Experience

1. Better feedback

The more we are aware of certain user behaviours, the better feedback we can provide about the quality of the application.

2. Discovering problems

A tester as a person who spends a lot of time with an application can spot those areas of the product which may be troublesome or incomprehensible for future users.

3. Producing usable products and services

After all, a tester is not only a ‘bug hunter’ who informs the developers that a given functionality does not work. The quality of a product is also indirectly determined by the user experience. Therefore, testers should cooperate with the UX department whenever possible.

Learning UX design

User Experience Design is also an alternative development path for a tester.

In opposition to automated testing, UX is a more humanistic field. Yet, this does not mean that it is an easy and trivial field and one can become a UX specialist just like that.

As I mentioned before, there are many issues under this umbrella and it touches on such areas as psychology, marketing and business strategy.

All these reasons made me decide to take a closer look at this whole ‘UX’ thing. There were moments when I realized that this knowledge is really needed even in the position of a software tester.

If you want to learn more, here you can find some free UX Design courses:

Conclusion

To sum up, the demand not only for UX designers but also for competencies in this area is still growing.

I recommend every tester to get familiar with at least the basics of User Experience principles because it is not only a very useful field but also fascinating!

QA specialist sharing experience and knowledge about testing industry & career path.