Wake Up! Test Analysts, Do Usability Testing Correctly


Read it all, there will be a test later

I’m seeing an interesting trend here in Perth. Recently,  job adverts and recruiters looking for Test Analysts to do usability and accessibility testing as part of their duties. Now this is a good thing in a way.

At least the traditional roles of the IT software project are understanding the need for usability and accessibility testing in web and general software projects. I guess something is better than nothing, right?

Well maybe not.

Traditionally Test Analysts are inserted into a project to test software code and specification compliance, usually via various automated processes and the like. Whether the SDLC of project is agile or waterfall in nature, they still have a part to play. However they work is at the end of a productivity cycle, after the run of the development / design team.

It is interesting to note that the type of testing techniques listed do not mention the usual usability testing methods that a usability professional would employ. There is also no reference to using the users of the system as test subjects. It seems that the Test Analysts has to play the Expert Reviewer card and use their wealth of understanding of the usability and cognitive process the users will go through to evaluate the system.

This is a waste of time!

Unless the Test Analyst is a usability specialist they are just going to be wasting everyone’s time and money. Yes they are looking at the issues, but this is really just like making User Acceptance Testing = Usability Testing – and we all know about that old chestnut.

Getting a User Experience professional on the team, even just part time, would produce better results than having the Test Analyst cover off the usability and accessibility issues to save a few dollars. At least the UX professional would examine the issue holistically throughout the run, not at the end.

Point to note there is also no reference to User Research or the like, just a reference to supporting business requirements.

Another case of the industry just not getting it, maybe? I suspect that the terms usability and accessibility testing are being dropped in, a bit like a form of buzzword bingo.

Now people tell me, especially Test Analysts, is this just happening in Perth or is the trend across the Australian job market and beyond?

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