What is User Testing? - Questions, Methods & Tools

Instructor: Marcia Wert

Marcia has taught Information technology and Mathematics with a master's degree in IT

User testing is a major step in the development process. Information Systems Design and Development is not complete until the user accepts or rejects a new project or application. Let's see how businesses acquire that approval.

What is User Testing?

User testing is also called User Acceptance Testing and (sometimes) beta testing. This is incorporated into the last phase of Information Systems Design and Development. It focuses on asking the end user a series of questions on their product and to further hone user requirements. Have you ever signed up to test a new version of Microsoft applications or a new video game? Have you ever filled out a customer survey at a new restaurant that uses Point of Sale (POS) technology? Companies want to find out what is good or bad about what they have designed. They want your feedback to see if you are satisfied with their product!

It is important to note that user testing does differ from functional testing , in which software is tested to see if it performs all of intended steps.

Methods of User Testing

Alpha and Beta Testing

Alpha testing is conducted in house and within the confines of the companies walls while beta testing occurs with selected members of the general populace. Alpha testing can be informal or formal to check software requirements but beta testing is more carried out by using a customer survey. These surveys usually just ask an individual to complete a 'fill in the blanks' questionnaire, or their rating of a system, to gauge overall customer satisfaction. In our restaurant example, this might entail asking the customer how satisfied he or she is on a rating scale based on taste, service and other appropriate criteria.

Contract Acceptance Testing

A contract will exist between the user and the information development team, once they have agreed to work together. The requirements in the contract will have spelled out what the project or application must fulfill. At this point, the user is allowed to specify whether the contractual terms are fulfilled. Taking our restaurant example, the restaurant owners would specify if the new electronic system is in accordance with what was specified in the requirements.

Regulation Acceptance Testing

Regulations and laws in some industries have to be adhered to in any project or application. This regulation acceptancetesting verifies whether the application meets those standards. In our restaurant, sales taxes would have to be collected from each customer. The owners and other staff would verify that this is in harmony with the law.

Operational Acceptance Testing

Operational acceptance is when the flow of data within the organization meets your approval. Our restaurant on a new POS system would want the sales to automatically be displayed on a monitor in the kitchen as an order. This way the kitchen could immediately start generating the order. The owners or staff does not want to walk an order back to the kitchen. The order is automatically displayed to the kitchen staff.

Black Box Testing

Think of a box where you have input going in and output going out! You are not sure what happens in the box but the output that is generated meets your specifications! This is what black box testing is.

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