Testing Tools Don’t Have to be Complicated

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo Da Vinci

Recently I’ve been playing around with trial versions of various types of testing software to get an idea of the overall market landscape.  Throughout this process I was continually reminded that, despite the rise of UX design as a field and everyone and their brother talking about “creating user experiences”, many companies still underestimate the importance of the user interface – and they do so at their own peril.  A quick way to lose a business user is to bury functionality in the deep recesses of the program or force them to code something when a button (or readable script) would suffice.  Technical users are no longer a sure thing, as these days they have more options for applications and so in-turn they will not have the patience for something that looks like Visual Studio ’97.  No amount of documentation or built-in help can salvage an overly-complex and convoluted interface.  Modern day users have choices, and they don’t want dated, cluttered, and non-intuitive user interfaces.

The evil cousin of the bad interface is the dreaded bloated installation, where a bunch of “supplemental helper programs” are installed alongside the flagship product.  Now you not only have to hunt and peck around in the main tool to perform an operation, but additionally you must investigate other programs.  Sometimes they will even have overlapping functionality, which adds another layer of confusion.  What is often marketed as “free helper apps” is usually the result of the company being more in the acquisition business rather than the software business.  A not-so-subtle hint is when they boast about all of their related applications “seamlessly integrating” with each other.  It’s of course understandable that Microsoft Word and Excel are separate offerings, but imagine the hassle if Word was split into smaller programs for creating documents, spellchecking, word find/replace, macros, and exporting in different file formats.  Today’s discriminating users want a streamlined, consolidated hub rather than a disjointed suite of executable files.

I downloaded one particular piece of “lite” software, and it was refreshing to see a truly “lite” installation that had a neat and tidy ending with a simple, single shortcut.  Next, I eagerly loaded the program and clicked a button, and promptly received a message stating that I must install a Web browser add-on.  This would add to my already gargantuan collection of Chrome add-ons that pollute my Web browsing experience with slow-downs and popups, and so I opted against it.   I then decided to begin fresh by selecting a drop-down menu option to start a new project, which resulted in a window appearing with links where I was directed to first download a handful of different software development kits.  This software is so “lite” that its empty.  Users don’t want to micromanage a software installation.

This post was written by:

James Prior
Technical Pre-Sales Consultant

James has been working in software pre-sales and implementation since 2000, and has more recently settled into focusing on technical pre-sales. He takes care of our hands-on demonstrations, and eagerly awaits your request to see our Cycle test automation software in action. Drop him a line at: james.prior[at]tryonsolutions[dot]com.