This blog contains reflections and thoughts on my work as a software engineer

fredag den 19. september 2008

Define user satisfaction

Quote from Software facts and Fallacies by Robert L. Glass - page 133:

"A user will be satisfied if he gets a product that meets needs, is available at an appropriate time, doesn't cost a fortune and is of reasonable quality".

We had a couple of real world users testing the website that we have been building for the past 3-4 months. I noticed a few things walking around yesterday evening while they were testing:

  • Nothing crashed. I never had users come in to test any of my code on an entirely new website without anything crashing with an ugly ASP.NET stacktrace showing up.
  • Nobody gave up and needed a lot of guidance help to complete their testing. There were a lot of questions of course and quite a few logical errors but people seemed to have a basic understanding of what they were supposed to do to keep moving forward.
  • 4 out of 5 questions could be solved with a textual changes / graphics instead of written text or layouting the page a little differently. We could really use a dedicated tester which knows something about design and usability in our team.
  • Nothing is as painful and as to see users revealing stupid logical errors. In Denmark we usually write the zipcode and the city on the same line: "7100 Vejle". We had an inputfield, some 30 characters allowed but we had clientside validation which threw an error if you entered any non-numeric value or more than 4 characters (all zipcodes in this country consists of max. 4 numeric characters. Small country, you know...). During our own day-to-day testing during development we had always just entered the 4 numeric characters which would pass validation check - and we would gladly have put this in production if users hadn't pointed out our own stupidity to us in advance.

As the wise men say: "You learn the most by your biggest mistakes". Point taken - we had a few things to correct. And - given the quote from above: We actually delivered something the users testing our system felt was useful - we tested on the night scheduled a month ago - we haven't spent more than a few months developing and it provided a solution to our Product Owners problem. How about that? :o)

Regards K.

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