Human vs. Bot Testers

Farrha Khan Posted November 30th, 2016 by
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Testing your product before launch and collecting pre-release user feedback is a crucial part of the product development lifecycle. However, one question we’ve seen come up in the industry in recent years as automated testing becomes much more powerful is if human testers are needed for this type of testing anymore. If you’re trying to decide if you need human testers or not for your next test, there are certain key factors you’ll need to consider.

Automated testing programs use bots to act as real users and automatically run through software products to find any bugs or other major functional issues. These “bot testers” are capable of going through apps much faster than human testers can, and because the program is able to measure and track performance much more easily, the program can also analyze the data being collected.

Undeniably, automated testing plays an important role in being able to find bugs quickly and efficiently, freeing up time for QA and developer teams to work on fixing those issues. So if you’re looking for obvious bugs or simple click-through pass/fail tasks, then automated testing might just be all you need at this point.

But if you are looking to develop and implement a well-rounded customer validation program, there is no substitute for human testers. This is the best time to not only check for any remaining bugs but to put every aspect of your product to the test, from your support documentation to what the general perception of your product is.

Here are some of the key things real users can bring to product testing that bot testers simply can’t.

Give Feedback on Usability

An automated program can run through every possible feature and functionality path to find bugs or certain patterns in performance that you might not be aware of. A human tester, on the other hand, will be able to make judgment calls and tell you if certain features aren’t working as expected, or if there is a feature or step that is missing. They will be able to explain to you why they feel this way and might even provide suggestions for possible solutions.

For example, a bot tester will not be able to pick up why your homepage layout isn’t intuitive, making your software feel clunky instead of smooth, or why the color green isn’t preferable for a “stop” button, or if the language being used from feature to feature is too confusing and convoluted. Human testers are the only ones who would be able to give you this kind of contextual feedback, giving you the opportunity to polish your product to a level that goes beyond just pure functionality.

Provide Insight on Product Perception

Using real testers will also give you the perfect opportunity to tap into your target market to get a snapshot of your product’s perception before launch. We always recommend using testers from your target customer base and leveraging this testing phase to see if there are any parts of your product that are frustrating, if the product isn’t doing what users expect it to do, if they are misunderstanding the purpose of your product, or if your support documentation isn’t up to par.

In this way, you aren’t just testing your product, but you’re also testing your product’s messaging as well as making sure you won’t be disappointing customers once your product is finally released.

Become Brand Evangelists

Your group of human testers will probably also include some of your company’s biggest fans. If you can pinpoint the testers who are most excited about your product, you can build relationships with them during the test, and then release them from your non-disclosure agreement (NDA) and encourage them to talk about their experiences testing your product after it has launched.

This is also a great opportunity to cultivate user-generated content. You can have your testers create videos showing how they use your product or talking about what they liked about it. You can also pull quotes from discussions or journals, or have them help generate questions and answers for your product’s FAQ page.

Real people testing your product in their natural environments gives you unique insight into your product that a robot or computer just isn’t capable of. Automated testing has its place, but if you’re looking to develop and implement a successful customer validation program, human testers are essential to gaining the pre-release feedback capable of giving you a strong competitive edge. If you can leverage your human testers correctly, you’ll be able to ensure the success of your product and that you’ll stand out against your competitors. If you’d like to see how Centercode can help you find the right testers for your customer validation program, schedule a demo today!

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