Impact of Human Factors on Software Quality and Testing

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With the changing times, the nature of software testing has changed from being reactive (identifying defects, prioritizing and reporting them) to being preventive (ensuring that no defects occur in the software development). Currently, with a growing number of software solutions developed and available in the market, end users have numerous options to choose from. This has transformed the way software is being developed and tested. Keeping with this, human factors like user behavior, user requirements, and user experience are given importance in the software development since they determine the quality of the software / applications developed. To be able to deliver high-quality software while considering human factors, software testing has been converging with programming for some years now.

Importance of Human Factors in Testing

The objective of software testing is not only to ensure the quality of the product / application but also to identify and fix usability gaps in the product. Hence, testers are expected to give feedback on the software from an end-user perspective considering the human factors. Various scenarios need to be tested while giving importance to user behavior and experience.

A typical example:

A user filling an online form is requested to provide ‘Debit Card PIN number’ to complete the transaction and he/she doesn’t have that information at that point in time. When the user does not enter the ‘Debit Card PIN number’, the system pops up a polite error message. Then, the user faces two options – 1. To go back and provide the required information or 2. To cancel the transaction and move on with other options or close the page. Sometimes, while choosing any of the two scenarios or switching between them, suddenly the browser gets reloaded and processes the transaction incorrectly.

Usually, such scenarios are not captured in requirements or user stories and hence might go untested, also result in poor user-experience. Such experience may impact the user to neither complete the online form nor come back to fill it, resulting in a considerable loss.

Therefore to address such issues, it is very much important to consider human factors like user behavior, targeted audience, and their requirements while testing. The human factor analysis and user-oriented testing have become important in testing. Test methodologies like usability testing, regression testing, and exploratory testing help the tester to act more like a user so as to notice the user experience and, in turn, detect potential gaps in the software.

The Changing Role of Testers Keeping Users at the Center

With the momentum of agile and DevOps practices in the last few years, testing has taken a new shape and structure. It is evolved into a major discipline and is no longer confined to one phase of the development cycle, but is an integral part throughout SDLC. So is the case with the tester, the role of the tester has transformed from mere a checkpoint to an important participant in the SDLC.

The recent times have witnessed a rapid change in the role of a tester from a person who tests the application / software to a person who can perform tests as well as fix the code. Though software quality is the primary responsibility of testers, a paradigm shift has been in progress. Testers are required to understand the system end-to-end and be familiar with the functionality and performance it the software expected to offer.

In the world of agile and DevOps that emphasizes more on shorter release cycles and simple solutions with the primary focus on the end user experience, quality has become the collective responsibility of both testers and developers. Specifically, agile and DevOps practices recommend quick turnaround to unexpected situations, adaptation to the changing needs of customers while maintaining the desired project pace. In such cases, the line between the testers and developers gets thinner, and their scope of involvement in the development and testing consecutively is becoming fluid and borderless.

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