In this session I will shortly introduce industrial anthropology with the main focus being on four things that help me as a software tester. Industrial anthropology deals with the question "how can things that are industrially manufactured be used by humans?"
While being an industrial anthropologist my job had two core areas: Testing tangible things and collecting biometric data. I learned a lot while on that job, but four aspects stand out:
- Testing is ultimately about the people using something, not the customer.
- Know your audience!
- Results are nothing without interpretation.
- Functionality is just one aspect that lets people enjoy things. Users will use a product as a whole, so it's okay to test isolated things, but only judge these parts as a whole.
These four aspects can easily be translated to software testing.
It's easy to get trapped in the "the requirement is tested"-trap, but it's us testers that need to bring the user's perspective to the table if no one else does.
Know your audience: I changed domains from automotive to bookkeeping recently, where users have a somewhat lower computer-literacy. My approach to testing has shifted accordingly.
Explain your results: As tester we often see ourselves as information brokers. So we need to convey these information to the people making the decisions, not just a green/red light in your reporting.
Look beyond functionality: Don't just look at functional requirements. Users don't care if there has been a requirement or not on performance.
These aspects get lost easily in a tester's daily grind, so they are worth looking at from time to time.