Re: Usability Testing

Subject: Re: Usability Testing
From: Barbara Karst-Sabin <Phillinion -at- AOL -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 23 Jun 1998 15:32:01 EDT

In a message dated 98-06-23 12:53:32 EDT, rhart -at- INTRINSYC -dot- COM writes:

<< the idea of carrying out usability testing in
the beta release stage of a software product's life cycle has
been soundly rejected. Why? Isn't usability part and parcel
of identifying "whether there are any operational problems that
haven't surfaced in the limited testing that is built into most
development processes," as George writes?

What little I've seen of the so-called, hi tech industry tells me that the
real driving force in all of this is marketing. They sell the product as soon
as someone has so much as begun brainstorming. The engineers are then driven
to provide something that will more or less do the job that marketing has
promisedd, and as quickly as is humanly possible. Quicker.

Meanwhile, the tech writers are there madly trying to develop a doc plan on
something that doesn't exist and are then forced to begin preparing the
documentation when there are still numerous, significant issues regarding the
products actual functionality still to be decided.

Of course there's no usability testing built in. My attempts to query things
that obviously weren't going to work were met with annoyance, at the very best
of times. Instead, we sat and waited for the error reports to come in after
publication so that the developers could be forced to iron out the wrinkles
the writers had already shown them. To add insult to injury, the problems
were categorized as "documentation faults"!

A very strange way to operate, but apparently the entire culture supports it,
including the customers. So how do you change it?


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