User Experience And Testing: The Developer Community In Ghana Has A Discussion

I went to my second DevCongress meet-up last Saturday. I wasn’t following up for a story. This time around, I was there as a casual observer, just watching in the background. (Read about my experience with the first meet up here).

Even though I wasn’t planning on writing anything, an idea came to mind during the last session of the meet-up. It had to do with testing and how the Ghanaian developer views testing in general.

Is Testing A Priority For Ghanaian Developers?

Image Credit: DevCongress (Twitter)

Edem Kumodzi (Andela) gave a talk about testing and why it was important for devs to perform testing for their products. After the talk, the group had a “lightening” talk/discussion about the whole concept of testing.

It was during the lightening talks where I got a lot of insights. One of those insights is that companies who hire developers don’t know the behind the scenes stuff that developers do to make products work well. One of those behind the scenes stuff is testing.

From the talks it was apparent: Developers don’t get the chance to do testing while others don’t make it a priority.

There are several tests that developers should be performing in order for things to run well and efficiently. But honestly, a lot of these tests are not being conducted due to the nature of clients wanting things done as quickly as possible.

Some developers who do test, run some automation, but to me it didn’t sound extensive enough. There was some insight by one developer who works at OMG Voice who said that he had to go back to fix a problem on the site even though he thought that he had already tested it. From my perspective, a test case and running testing scenarios might have caught that earlier.

For my day job (which is user experience testing), what I try to do is work with companies to recruit users to testing of their products to find out how to get the best experience possible. However, pitching to companies, especially startups about the need for user testing can be difficult. Everybody wants the project shipped out as quickly as possible which therefore gives developers less time to test all the functionality of the product. All that matters is the product is put in the hands of the users.

Of course, if the product breaks, it goes back to the developer to fix. That means more time is spent fixing the product instead of working on the next update or new features.

Companies Need To Realize That Testing Is Essential For User Experience

Let’s talk about User Experience (UX) testing for just a second. The point of user testing is to make sure the end user gets the best experience possible when using the product. That best experience includes how fast and efficient a product works and also whether buttons or features in the product do what they’re supposed to do.

From the DevCongress meet-up, it would appear that developers don’t have enough time to fully test for speed and functionality. Granted, there are some developers who argue that they don’t like testing or writing test cases. But it goes beyond the fact that they just don’t want to do testing. There are some developers who are basically one-man teams. They code, design AND test the product all by themselves.

Some companies might need to look into hiring more staff to include developers, designers AND testers. That’s how most companies who want to ship out good products do it.

I have tested digital products and apps in my spare time and I actually get surprised with how some apps have broken features in them when they’re released. How can a product get shipped to the public when it hasn’t been fully tested?

Honestly, some of these apps should have a “beta” tag attached to them because most of them are broken.

Will Testing Ever Be A Standard For Ghanaian Developers?

Unfortunately, until companies in Ghana realize that it’s not always about pushing the product out as quickly as possible but rather pushing out the product with the best experience possible, their products and services will fail to reach critical mass.

Testing is almost standard in developed places. There’s no way a big company puts out a product that isn’t fully tested before it releases it out to the public. And if they do, they probably put a beta tag on it and allow the general public to send them feedback for what is broken.

There are some talented developers out there but companies are playing with fire by not understanding how their process works. But it’s also on the developers to spell out how their process works to some companies and clients.

But times are hard and money can be scarce. I don’t have the data but my assumptions are that, developers don’t get paid what they’re worth in Ghana. So it’s sometimes understandable if its about developing a product as quickly as possible to satisfy a client or company and get paid.

Developing is hard! Believe me, I was an aspiring developer till I went into full User Experience mode.

In order for testing of products to be a standard, companies must realize that user experience for their products is important. Once they realize that, they have to prioritize testing and be knowledgable about the testing side of things. Developers must also realize that as well. Developing products with bugs and inefficiencies doesn’t look good for your profile, even if the client was pushing for early releases.

Hopefully, testing becomes standard in the short term.

If you’re interested in what’s going on with DevCongress, you can join their Slack channel here