…..But I ended up here, bang in the middle
World. We expect our product to be consistent with things that we know about or can observe in the world.
There is a lot of comfort as consumers with familiarity, it’s somehow a part of who we are.
Habits help us through our day. When we are doing something that is habitual, we are not engaged in the task in the same way as when we are doing something that is not habitual. Just as an example, consider making breakfast in your own kitchen on any given weekday. Next time you do it, watch how effortlessly it happens. It’s not exactly like an out-of-body experience, but it’s close. Your movements through the kitchen are stereotyped. You grab the milk out of the fridge, turn toward the counter and give the door that little nudge you with your foot that you know it needs. If something is on your mind, you might not notice that you’re sitting at the table and munching on your second piece of toast until you’re halfway through it. Now, compare that to getting breakfast at a friend’s house. Maybe you’re dog sitting (you’re so nice!) Where’s the milk? The bread? Oh my goodness, so complicated!
As testers, our experiences and awareness of the wider world can shape our approaches and leanings toward different heuristics. There are no two testers who have the same exact experiences, trends, leanings and instincts, which is a truly wonderful thing. We are as equally conformist as we are non-conformist.
I have a keen interest in mobile phones and as the smart phone revolution took place, both the hardware and software have shaped the biases that I have held.
When I transitioned from a Windows Mobile 6.5 device to an Android 2.2 (Froyo) device, the move was made easier for me by HTC’s Sense UI.
My familiarity with the UI meant that the change in OS wasn’t such a shock to my fingertips, there was no jarring sense that I didn’t know what I was doing when using my smartphone.
Contrary to my own choices, Apple have tapped into this with phenomenal success.
Regularity, and Familiarity
This is, perhaps, the most difficult aspect of Apple’s success to replicate. And also the most important. As a company, Apple has built a legacy of providing services and devices that are intuitive, simplistic, and easy to use. This breaks down the barrier to entry into their ecosystem and attracts a large audience.
Apple has also maintained a pre-determined calendar for the launch of its products. Apple users know that every fall, they will get an upgrade to their OSes, iPhones, and Macs. They also have a good idea about how the products will be priced and most of the features are more or less public weeks prior to the launch. This knowledge enables them to plan their finances and upgrades easily.
Finally, the familiarity of the ecosystem is a huge advantage. Once you start using any one of their devices, it’s almost a certainty that you’ll buy an associated product from their family of devices. They complement each other so well, you hardly ever feel a difference while moving from device to device.
What does this mean for us as testers. Is it possible to have biases and software prejudices? Is what we feel while we are testing, something that we can feed back and capture to better shape the future of our product?
The answer to this is, of course, yes. The soft skills that we champion as essential for success in testing allow us to look at the world around us, make calculated judgements, informed decisions and to articulate these to the benefit or our product in development.
Continue to learn, continue to feel the software that you interact with daily, feed that back, whether it’s the product you’re testing, or just a product you love to use!