User-based or user-oriented testing is essential for developing applications and meeting the requirements of real users. During the software development process, teams often involve customers and forget that customers’ needs are often different from the needs of real users (Sohaib & Khan, 2010). That is why involving users is highly important for improving the usability of the software.
It should also be noted that the main goal of every software development company is to ensure that their products will be profitable. Therefore, it is essential to reduce potential costs. According to Davis & Venkatesh (2004), the major contributors to costly software project failures are errors in requirements specifications. About 17% of all completed projects experience cost overruns (Davis &Venkatesh, 2004). The difference between specified user requirements and real user requirements can explain this.
How Can User-Based Testing Reduce Costs?
Software development companies often don’t consider real user requirements because they don’t involve real users in the testing process. Additionally, if software development is quite time-consuming, the user requirements may change and can be different from the requirements that were in the beginning. Furthermore, the later certain defects and problems are detected in the project, the more expensive it is to fix and remove them. Therefore, early detection of potential problems related to usability is one of the most effective ways to reduce potential costs in the future and ensure that the project will be successful.
Davis & and Venkatesh (2004) claim that providing potential users with a direct hands-on experience with at least a realistic working prototype is essential. Even in the case if users don’t like a pre-working prototype of the software and the users’ acceptance is low, the software development company will be able to save up to 75% of the total project cost (Davis & Venkatesh, 2004).
The most important reason users should be involved is that the customer-oriented approach is the most effective for developing any product, and this is related to software development and other businesses. While customers may have their own views on how the software should look and how their potential users will use it, their ideas are often far from reality. It is needed to explain to customers who order software development that without real users, it won’t be possible to ensure that the functions and usability of the future project will align with real customer’s needs and requirements.
Additionally, it should be noted that real users have different characteristics and needs. Some users may find certain functions of the software convenient and may not experience any problems with them, while for others, the software can be rather difficult to use. That is why it is essential to involve users belonging to different age groups and cultural backgrounds. According to Woolrych & Cockton (2001), involving more than 5 real users in software testing is essential.
It can be concluded that involving real users in testing is essential because it helps to identify real user needs and not specified ones and reduce costs associated with software development. Developers and customers can’t predict real users’ needs and are often influenced by certain biases, which negatively affects usability. Only real users can provide software developers with valid information regarding real user needs.
Davis, F. D., & Venkatesh, V. (2004). Toward pre-prototype user acceptance testing of new information systems: implications for software project management. IEEE Transactions on Engineering management, 51(1), 31-46.
Sohaib, O., & Khan, K. (2010, June). Integrating usability engineering and agile software development: A literature review. In Computer design and applications (ICCDA), 2010 international conference on (Vol. 2, pp. V2-32). IEEE.
Woolrych, A., & Cockton, G. (2001, September). Why and when five test users aren’t enough. In Proceedings of IHM-HCI 2001 conference (Vol. 2, pp. 105-108). Eds)(Cépaduès Editions, Toulouse, FR, 2001).