Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Tainted

I've been working on a project for a little while now that is brand new. The next version we'll ship is 1.0 - and it'll be the first version actually to leave the four walls of our office. Things are starting to near the end, so we're working on things like packaging and documentation, and final tweaks of the software. All of that needs to be tested.

Specifically, we need someone to test the initial user experience. Someone has to walk through that first delivery and get it to a running system. This experience is incredibly important, because it will guide how the consumer thinks of the product throughout it's life cycle. This test will cover the feel of the package, ease of initial deployment, and some of the getting started and installation guide.

So great! I fire it up and.... stop.

I'm tainted.

I've been working on this project. I know how it's supposed to work, and I've been deploying and running test versions for a while now. I know too much. I know the assumptions the team has made, and I'm probably working off knowledge I don't remember I know.

This time period is a gift. I have a fresh product that needs a "first user" experience, and I have a couple of testers who have never deployed this thing (they've been working on other projects). Use it. I'll get them to do this test.

Today's lesson: Using a product and testing a product gives you knowledge and assumptions your users don't have. If you want to create the new user experience, get a user who doesn't have those assumptions and that knowledge. Find someone untainted.

4 comments:

  1. I've been thinking of this situation, but from a different point of view, as if you are going on stage with a new performance for a new audience. Is *your* performance going to get a standing ovation? One untainted user won't help.

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  2. "Using a product and testing a product gives you knowledge and assumptions your users don't have. If you want to create the new user experience, get a user who doesn't have those assumptions and that knowledge. Find someone untainted"

    Nice Post catherine, you are right, fresh eyes are always a great addition while testing some features of the product.

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  3. Chris, I'm not quite sure I get the analogy? My point was, as Kashif said, that there is value in getting fresh eyes on a product, particularly when the situation you're looking at involves a consumer who will have those same fresh eyes (i.e., a new user).

    I'm not quite sure I see how my "performance" (which is what in this context?) is relevant.

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  4. I had a mentor who gave me the advice: master your subject, teach it to two people and move on. There are those who are fine with monotony and are good at it. I get bored and like to 'move on'. Also, teaching others has helped me to extend my knowledge and understanding beyond what I could ever achieve individually.

    That's why I went the consulting route. I enjoy seeing new applications and people every 6-8 months.

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