Just because an application or website is live doesn’t necessarily mean it’s working. Poor performance (slow loads, time outs) security issues, and other site errors can all have a negative impact on your user experience. A custom website is only as good as the user’s experience within the website. It doesn’t matter how good the website looks, it doesn’t matter how well the code is written – if users can’t get to where they need to go, quickly, your application is broken.
Performance problems cause frustrations with users trying to get things done. Security issues pose all types of issues, especially if the security threat affects user data. Unclear error messages can hurt your user experience and each issue will hurt your users’ ability to interact with your company.
An application requires three steps, the last one being the most important:
Code and Security Testing
This task falls on the developers. Here, we’re looking to remove timeouts, data issues, and any bugs in the code we can determine, prior to user testing. We ensure there are appropriate error pages set up for when an error occurs, and run through several scenarios to ensure the application’s code is functioning as it should.
Internal User Testing
This is where the client and client staff test the application. Here, a lot more bugs are discovered, hiccups in the user experience are identified, and a much deeper knowledge of how the application should function is revealed.
This can be frustrating for the client, as it’s often assumed that the software should be “ready” at this point. The software is far from ready, and even the best developers in the world can’t properly test that an application meets the user’s needs and expectations.
For one, we’re too close to the software. We’ve been staring at it for hundreds of hours and are biased. Secondly, and most importantly, developers generally have a better understanding of computer systems than the average user does. This means it’s easy to build something that is too complicated for the average internet surfer/entry level staff member.
External User Testing
Finally, how do your customers view and use the application? This is where we uncover things hiccups in user flow. These are things like a limiting/show stopping pop up that the user wasn’t expecting, or something that seemed great in the board room—but didn’t translate well to the client’s side. We generally do testing with live customers before launching an application to ensure that things are smooth and fit the customer’s expectations before moving it live.