Value of / requirement for user testing (was Re: Do I have to understand the material?

Subject: Value of / requirement for user testing (was Re: Do I have to understand the material?
From: Kevin McLauchlan <kmclauchlan -at- chrysalis-its -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 22 Aug 2002 10:04:26 -0400

Game developers may have market-driven schedules,
but their market is 'the public'. Many other companies
have markets that are other companies, often companies
that are much bigger (and therefore have much more clout)
than the developing company in question. That has an
irresistible effect on product schedules and on the
possibility of "user testing" before release.

Our "user" testing is our Beta testing.

I'd love to be able to work up a set of docs, while the
development crew came up with few dozen units of
the new product, and then we could sit some "users"
down in front of a box with my manuals and watch
them go, and take notes, and improve both the product
and the manuals at leisure, before the real release...
and... and...

Instead, we plan a moderately workable development
schedule, work the schedule for a few months, and
then chop weeks or months off of it because one of
our big [potential] customers got wind of the project
and said "make your release schedule fit our schedule,
and we'll probably buy a bunch from you."

Toward the end, as the product is taking shape, and
the interface is beginning to gel, we might be lucky
enough to get half a dozen pre-production units in-house
for our testing ... and then we have to ship four or five
of them for demos or for customer-mandated trials,
leaving us to do all our testing on two (or fewer)
pre-prod units and the few stray prototypes that are
actually, sorta, kinda, functioning... although not exactly
the way the final units will, but hey... that's life for a
small company.

Actual user testing, in controlled conditions, with an
array of "users" having validly representative skills
and knowledge?? Surely you jest!

**Yes, I know.......... stop calling you Shirley...

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RE: Do I have to understand the material?: From: Jane Carnall

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