Enhance the end-user experience with test metrics

Organizations have many different methods for determining the success of their software projects. At the end of the day, however, applications and programs will be judged by how effectively they can be leveraged by the end user. There are many helpful QA metrics available to quality assurance teams, but not all offer insight into the user experience. In order to best understand how well a given piece of software is performing after it has been released, QA management should pursue testing metrics that account for the end user.

As noted in a QA Consultants white paper, companies need to be cognizant of how their software runs once it has been placed in the hands of end users. Part of that entails QA members putting themselves in the shoes of their program’s audience when running tests. This includes keeping a sharp eye on performance issues and response times – two areas of software operations that could directly impact the user experience. In addition, test teams should place their application in real-world working conditions to better understand how that software will perform once it has been released. This is critical for both mobile software and website developers as there are a number of factors that could affect the end-user experience that may not arise during controlled testing processes.

Gather end-user metrics
Beyond that, QA management should look straight to the source to glean insight into how well a given application or program is operating for customers. By incorporating end user feedback or simply recording performance metrics post release, companies can better understand the difficulties and issues that their clients are encountering. Measuring Usability’s Jeff Sauro offered several metrics that organizations could utilize to gain greater insight into this area, including task time.

A piece of software may function properly without any particularly glaring defects, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a quality application. It may be overly arduous for users to complete simple tasks and navigate the interface. By measuring the amount of time it takes customers to finish such a task, QA teams can determine how easy it is to engage and operate their product.

There are many other user-centric testing metrics that organizations can utilize, such as:

  • Number of issues reported by customers – A simple but effective way to quantify the user experience, recording the total number of issues reported by customers allows QA teams to see just how problematic their product is for those individuals who attempt to run it on a regular basis. While this metric doesn’t really provide any insight into the nature of a particular problem, it lets test teams know that one exists.
  • Defect severity index – Not all bugs are created equal. Some may rarely, if ever, arise while others may be a common occurrence. Furthermore, some software flaws will be far more disruptive, potentially bringing the entire program crashing down. When customers report an issue, it’s vital that QA management also take note of the severity of the problem.

A piece of software that has only a few defects that are extremely disruptive will likely be a far more difficult program to run than one that has many innocuous issues. While defect severity index metrics can be collected at any stage of the development process, continuing their collection past the release stage will help organizations ensure a more satisfying user experience.

To get the most value out of these testing metrics, companies should be certain that the relevant decision-makers have access to this information. C-level officers should be very concerned with the performance of their software products once they have been placed in the hands of their customers. By employing a comprehensive test management system, QA members can freely share critical test metrics with anyone within the organization who wishes to see them. This increased oversight will help companies to stay on task and make choices that will ultimately provide customers with the best user experience possible.

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