Earlier this week I did a talk on a Guide to Usability at Ministry of Testing, so to follow on from that I’m going to do a series of blog posts on the topic.

How easy is your product to use?

Early in my career we never asked the question in my team: How easy is our product to use? The main focus was to check the functional aspects of the product and ship it out to the customer as soon as possible.

Pattern of frustrations

I started to notice a pattern. The frustrations that I felt with the product were mirrored in reported bugs or feedback from the customer. How I felt was how customers could feel too!

Discuss usability with team

Discuss concerns with your team early

Over time I grew in confidence and started to discuss ease of use concerns with my team. This had a mix set of reactions — some were on board and proactively addressed these concerns — others said “you’re not a user, so you can’t really say” or “let’s wait for our UX colleague to make a call”.

Frustration is a common emotional response

We’re all human — and we have common emotional responses. Paul Eckham’s influential work looked at this by finding that emotions are universally recognised. What I’m getting to is that, if you feel frustrated, then I can guarantee a user out there will feel the same as you too.

Examples of basic emotions

You can add value

In summary, you can add value in relation to usability. What you’ll need to do is discover what the common user frustrations could be with your product, so that you can identify and discuss these early on with your team. I’ll be going on to discuss common user frustrations in the next post.

Test team leader sharing my knowledge, experience and thoughts on testing related matters.