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Should you separate UX testing and software testing?

UX testing is distinct from software product testing. Expert Gerie Owen explains how to bring the two sides closer together.

That's a tough call. Most traditional testers have little or no background in usability testing. It's fundamentally...

different to set up and test user responses than it is to test software for defects. User experience (UX) specialists are well-equipped to better understand how different design considerations are interpreted by users. Usability testing generally takes place early in a project cycle, and the end result is often a prototype that presents the look and feel of the application, along with aspects of its interaction with users.

That said, it's still a good idea to involve testers in UX testing. Testers have a better practical understanding of the end user, and in many cases have made significant contributions to requirements and user stories. I've seen circumstances where UX professionals have interpreted results in one way, only to have testers explain that the user community for this particular application didn't think that way.

How about seeking a détente with your UX experts? They have skills that will help you become a better tester, and you can be involved and helpful very early in the project lifecycle. I suggest that you propose a joint effort where traditional testers can be observers and consultants in UX testing. Make sure you know that they are in charge of the process, and that you are there to learn and be helpful.

In time, you may be in a place to do your own UX testing. If so, you will have the invaluable experience from those who have been trained to do it. Until then, you are in learning mode, and whatever you learn about usability will likely make you a better day-to-day application tester.

Finally, don't separate usability from software testing completely. If you find a serious usability issue while you are executing your tests, don't hesitate to open a ticket as you would for any other software bug.

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This was last published in December 2015

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Where does UX testing fit at your company?
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I'm yet to see dedicated UX testing but I sure observed it happening all the way from User Story testing to System Testing in Agile, and during UAT phase in Waterfall.
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UX Testing could be done by testers, but it really feels like a tool that Product Owners might take as their responsibility.
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Althought I cannot declare my Testers follow recognised UX testing techniques we do always question how a change  will impact the end user use of their system and include end users as part of our Sprint changes. For the moment I can't see if UX testing is just a new name for something E2E testing should already be including? Testing should always aim to minimise the number of post deployment issues raised.
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UX Testing does NOT EVER below to Software Testing. It is a matter for the DESIGN team with some involvement from Customer Support who hear from the CUSTOMERS regarding usability issues.People in internet cafes in the countries who use our products get paid $1 hr for UX testing. Works GREAT.
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There are 2 distinct aspects to this question.

UX designer is a specialist in good and bad design patterns. But any large complex software product that's been around for some time, has its own patterns, and skilled testers are aware of them.
Testers may also identify differences in implementation of similar features and bring it to the attention of the UX designer - users typically expect consistency within the product.
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User Experience has to do about how a user views changes to the product from a user perspective.

User accessibility has more to do with how changes are viewed from a product availability and flexibility perspective.

UX might not include testing for 508 Compliance, but UA probably does.
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In my experience, typical testing usually presumes to also address usability, though often without specifically focusing on it. Part of such presumption, which often needs to be considered further, is that independent testers actually do better understand how users think and act. Frequently, usability is presumed to be a major topic of user acceptance testing (UAT) and may largely be left to UAT at the end of the life cycle rather than early as the article suggests.

I find focused usability testing per se is relatively uncommon, especially when performed by also-uncommon UX specialists, when it indeed ordinarily would be performed separately. The extreme example of separate usability testing is even rarer and employs a usability laboratory, which can be very powerful but also is fairly expensive and thus less likely to be used. In either instance, usability testing often is limited to the UI; but usability can involve far more that too often is not tested.

For more, see http://searchsoftwarequality.techtarget.com/answer/Measuring-usability-How-to-gauge-an-applications-user-experience and http://searchsoftwarequality.techtarget.com/tip/Overcoming-user-acceptance-testing-difficulties.
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(For some weird reason I had problems with my previous account: not receiving notifications. An ironical examples with regards to usability).

@Robin Goldsmith - in my experiences, testers tend to report what bothers them, and that might be some good usability concerns. But it's uncommon that testers challenge and explore users' habits and context. Testers are not users, and testing should be on behalf of the actual users.
I once blogged on a few dimensions to explore: http://automation-beyond.com/2015/11/27/testing-persona/
 
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