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The Art of Software Testing, 3rd Edition by Tom Badgett, Corey Sandler, Glenford J. Myers

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Chapter 7

Usability (User) Testing

An important category of system test cases is one that attempts to find human-factor, or usability, problems. When the first edition of this book was published, the computing industry mostly ignored the human factors associated with computer software. Developers gave little attention to how humans interacted with their software. That is not to say that there were no developers testing applications at the user level. In the early 1980s, some—including developers at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), for example—were conducting user-based software testing.

By 1987 or 1988, the three of us had become intimately involved in usability testing of early personal computer hardware and software, when we contracted with computer manufacturers to test and review their new desktop computers prior to release to the public. Over perhaps two years, this prerelease testing prevented potential usability problems with new hardware and software designs. These early computer manufacturers obviously were convinced that the time and expense required for this level of user testing resulted in real marketing and financial advantages.

Usability Testing Basics

Today's software systems—particularly those designed for a mass, commercial market—generally have undergone extensive human-factor studies, and modern programs, of course, benefit from the thousands of programs and systems that have gone before. Nevertheless, an analysis of human factors is still a highly ...

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