Improve your user experience with flexible testing

Throughout 2017, the User Experience team at Hyland spent a lot of time working with customers and system administrators to help them build plans for improving the usability of their OnBase systems. We wrote blog posts, taught in-person courses, recorded e-courses, and had endless conversations on how measured steps to review, simplify, and upgrade your OnBase system keeps it something users actually look forward to using.

This still leaves a few questions though. Namely, how do you know a new solution you’ve built is going to meet the expectations of your users prior to launch? How do you gather enough feedback on your design to feel confident the solution will be successful? And once you go live, do you have any plans set in place to continue gathering feedback?

In order to answer these questions, you first have to understand the various types of testing, and how and when you can use them most effectively. So let’s start out with the two categories of testing: Black Box and White Box.

Black Box testing is when the tester has no knowledge of the internal structure/design of the solution. White Box testing is the opposite, meaning the tester has at least some knowledge of the structure/design of the solution.

Why test?

Remember, the main goal of all these tests is to be proactive and find significant issues before launch, instead of afterward. This helps you avoid lengthy, costly, and often high-risk changes after the solution is in production, and helps you make the best possible first impression with users.

For those reasons, you should consider testing a new solution prior to launch as a critical part of the solution development process. You should discuss that importance with stakeholders and accommodate for it in your project planning. You can also divide testing sessions up and move them throughout your development process. This makes the process easier, because each test is smaller, so it’s easier to arrange, test, and make any changes.

Types of tests

Some examples of tests and which categories they fall into are:

Black Box

  • Accessibility Testing is functional and usability testing with consideration to users that may need assistive technologies or accommodation to use an application.
  • Beta Testing is done by end users, a team outside development, or publicly releasing a full pre-version of the product to uncover unexpected errors.
  • Functional Testing ensures that the specified functionality in the system requirements works to specifications.
  • Performance Testing assesses the speed and effectiveness of the system to ensure it is generating results within an acceptable time frame.
  • Regression Testing checks a modification of a system, component, or a group of related units to ensure that the changes are working correctly and not interfering with pre-existing modules to produce unexpected results.
  • Stress Testing evaluates how the system behaves under unfavorable conditions such as extremely large data sets or under intense resource usage beyond the limits of the specifications.
  • System Testing ensures that the software still works in different environments (e.g., operating systems, hardware configurations, etc.). System testing needs full system implementation and multiple environments.
  • Usability Testing (UT) evaluates how user-friendly the system is with actual end users by observing them trying to use the system to complete their everyday tasks.
  • User Acceptance Testing (UAT) ensures the delivered product meets the requirements and works as the customer expected.

White Box

  • Automated Testing uses special software to run pre-defined tests and compare the actual outcomes with predicted outcomes.
  • Security Testing determines if an information system protects data and maintains functionality as intended.
  • Unit Testing tests an individual unit or group of related units, often done by developers to test that their implemented unit is producing expected output against given input.

Both Black Box and White Box

  • Integration Testing checks a group of components from different systems that are combined to produce output, as well as any interaction between software and hardware if those components must work together.

No surprises

Once you’ve planned the time to test, and decided on what type of testing technique you’ll utilize, you have to prioritize what to test. Maybe this is an internal-only application behind your firewalls, and security isn’t as big of a priority as performance. Or maybe you have a very uniform environment, so system testing isn’t a big concern.

However, if your application has any type of user interface, we highly suggest running at least some kind of end-user testing, the two most common forms of which are UT and UAT. The key difference between these two is that UAT deals with functionality and logical errors while UT checks if the system matches user behavior and expectations.

User acceptance testing is typically done near the end of the development process to prove to the client that the project is functionally complete. Usability testing, however, is done throughout the design and development process to make incremental changes to the solution design when issues are discovered. Using user testing during the development process helps ensure a smooth UAT period at the end of the project.

Testing early and often, especially with end users, is a great way to keep a project on track and avoid last-minute delays or surprises. It’s also a confidence booster for delivering effective, easy-to-use solutions to your users. And finally, it creates a feedback loop between users and administrators for users to feel heard, engaged, and invested in the solution, a critical success factor for any system.

Questions on testing? Want to see how the Hyland User Experience team conducts tests? Visit the Hyland User Experience Partnership to learn more!

Marc Majers, Andy Rusnak, and Michael Ullinger

Marc Majers, Andy Rusnak, and Michael Ullinger

Michael, Andy, and Marc have teamed up to create thought provoking training courses centered around improving the user experience of OnBase solutions by sharing techniques that focus on understanding the needs of end users and customers. Both Michael and Marc are User Experience Designers at Hyland, and act as advocates for end users within the software creation process and every point along the customer journey. Andy is a leader in technical support, assisting customers in finding answers to their issues and challenges.

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