The Agile Test Contractor

I have been in many companies, and if there is a cohesive experienced Agile project team, things can happen, with or without formal process.  And majority of the time, it’s contractors providing this level of skill.   If all know their roles, observe good Agile development practice, and happy to extend beyond their remit when necessary, that is a good start in any Agile methodology.  Agile testing … is it different?  The fundamentals should remain – strategise, plan and script. But there are other focus areas such as test automation and exploratory testing* which are essentials.

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Nothing is too large for Agile

Largely the opinion of Agile is that it is only appropriate for smaller projects – this is misleading. Large projects are commonly a collection of smaller projects working towards common goal. So the challenge is to use Agile in a more distributed environment. Individual projects can adopt different development methodologies, but the project management layer should be in sync. One of the founding principles of Agile is to share knowledge, and this is where Agile used on larger projects can fall over. It is not optional, it is imperative to share knowledge, skills and progress across the “sub projects”.

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Usability – its an old man’s game

You can’t teach unless you can put yourself in the position of the pupil

“Where’s my Googlebox?!” – adventures in search for silver surfers » iheni :: making the web worldwide

Great quotable line from James Christie (comment 10).   And so true – younger generation may be more general savvy with technology, but it doesnt mean for a second they undertsand, or are able to pass on that knowledge.  This is in keeping with generation gap- the inspiration and drive of youth, tempered by the experience and caution or older generations.  You need the mix – weighting either way will lead to too much compromise.

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Where Open Source meets Usability

A common problem in open source development (though forgivable, given nature of open source), is completeness. is an effort to redress this from a usability angle at least.  Still early days, but well worth supporting.

Getting to a state where it is usable for ‘the common computer users’ is one of the greatest challenges for Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS). During the last years, the awareness for usability has significantly increased among FLOSS developers. Still, little knowledge exists about the scope, the methodology and the application of a user-oriented design process.

Changing this is one the major goal of the OpenUsability project. It provides a platform to bring Open Source developers and usability contributors together. The idea is to establish a long-term relationship between usability and FLOSS development, and to foster the establishment of user-oriented design processes.

OpenUsability – Where Open Source meets Usability » Projects

Rubber Duck Methodology

Rubber Duck

Rubber Duck

1) Beg, borrow, steal, buy, fabricate or otherwise obtain a rubber duck (bathtub variety)

2) Place rubber duck on desk and inform it you are just going to go over some code with it, if that’s all right.

3) Explain to the duck what you code is supposed to do, and then go into detail and explain things line by line

4) At some point you will tell the duck what you are doing next and then realise that that is not in fact what you are actually doing. The duck will sit there serenely, happy in the knowledge that it has helped you on your way.

In summary ask yourself a question, before asking someone else, as you may get the answer just by formulating a question in your head.

usability counts

if a customer is unhappy with a product or a website, you’ve lost them. You can’t get them back with this approach, because it just makes them feel stupid.

Usability is probably one of the most misunderstood and misused of the testing types – companies feel free to adopt as little or as much as they see fit. Web Accessibility is probably the second one – “no, just offering font size increase button does not make the site web Accessibility compliant”.

The above quote says it all – the reason so many websites fail, as they are built with arrogance. Back in the bad old web of the 90’s, it was OK to dictate to your users – indeed when things went wrong on websites back then, the default reaction of the user was to blame themselves. Now the knowledge has grown – your average surfer knows websites are not perfect, and also know that if they are finding a website hard to navigate THEY CAN GO SOMEWHERE ELSE. To me, that is a no-brainer, as I am exactly the same. Don’t treat me like a fool, don’t pointlessly show off multimedia on a site, when it is slowing the browser down to a halt, dont give me overly long pointless forms to fill in ….. etcetera

You need me more than I need you! (Every 21st century web user)