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So you've been asked to do some UAT. Now what?

So you've been asked to do some UAT. Now what?

User Acceptance Testing is one of those product phases that can be difficult to really understand. Often mistaken for its close counterparts; functional testing and quality testing, UAT has a very specific, and extremely crucial role in the development cycle.

The best way to understand how UAT fits into the testing process is by contrasting it with the other two forms. Functional testing focuses on the capabilities of the app and seeks to answer the question, 'do the app features meet the specification'. Quality testing, by contrast, examines the product to find out whether there are any bugs or design flaws that stop those features from performing adequately.

Now that we know that the product fulfils its purpose to a high enough standard, we need to answer one final question; will anybody actually use it? That's where UAT comes in. User Acceptance Testing puts the product in the hands of consumers to find out whether it fulfils its intended role in their lives - do they accept it as a useful product? UAT can elicit all kinds of interesting feedback, from criticisms of the design and functionality to questioning the purpose of the product itself. It serves as the first true test of your product vision.

So where do you begin when approaching UAT? Well, that's the question we're here to answer.

Step 1: Define your pass/fail criteria

Asking the right questions is the cornerstone of a great UAT. You need to be getting to the crux of how a user envisions this fitting in with their day-to-day lives and meeting that with your business goals. Is the app better than competitors? Is it easier than existing solutions? Would they purchase the product right now if they could? These are the sorts of questions that should define your pass criteria.

Step 2: Create your test plan

There are a host of ways to carry out user testing - it's down to you to pick out the methods most applicable to your product and audience. Whether that's an open (alpha) test, a closed (beta) test, contract testing, black box testing or operational testing, you'll need to do your research to find the best fit. The standard approach is to test the product in-house in a supervised environment, before releasing it through a public user-testing process.

Step 3: Agree your user journeys

All UAT starts with a customer, a goal and your product. How the customer navigates their way to the goal is up to them. However, when you're analysing the results, you need to be extremely specific about what's working and what isn't. That means having your user journeys planned out ahead of time and seeing whether the actual customer process adheres to your expectations.

Step 4: Plan in-context testing

Your product isn't an isolated platform. Perhaps you run it in Chrome, but your customer uses Firefox. Maybe you built it for browsers, but the user needs it on mobile. What if it needs to work in a public place? On a train? In a crowded theatre? It's all very well to have an app that performs well in your office, but it may be a different story when brand-new customers try to use it in their hectic lives. Especially when you're not there to explain how it works.

These four steps are only really the tip of the iceberg, but they give you a good footing for launching off into your own innovate UAT program. To learn more about how we approach UAT here at the Studio, drop us a call today.

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