User Acceptance Testing, or UAT, is a critical phase in the software development life cycle that ensures a product meets the needs and expectations of its intended users.
During the UAT phase, real-world scenarios and test cases are executed to simulate the actual usage of the software in a production environment. This testing is conducted by end-users, or representatives from the user community, who evaluate the software’s functionality, usability, and overall performance.
Through this process, the software creators can identify any discrepancies or defects in the system before it is released to market, and verify that the software meets the specified requirements of the business and the needs of the users.
Importance of UAT
User acceptance testing plays a vital role in reducing the risks associated with software development by involving the end-users in the testing process.
It helps in identifying and resolving usability issues, functional gaps, and performance bottlenecks that may not be apparent during earlier testing phases. By ensuring that the software meets the users’ expectations and business requirements, UAT enhances user satisfaction and increases the chances of successful adoption and utilization of the software in the real world.
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How to do user acceptance testing
Typically, a single round of user acceptance testing involves the following 4 activities or steps:
- Test planning
- Test case development
- Test execution
- Defect management.
Test planning involves defining the scope, objectives, and test approach for UAT, as well as identifying the resources and environment required.
Test case development involves creating test scenarios and test scripts that represent real-world user interactions with the software. These test cases are designed to cover a wide range of user workflows and business processes to ensure comprehensive testing.
During the test execution phase, the end-users or user representatives perform the tests based on the defined test cases. They interact with the software, execute various operations, and validate the system’s behavior against the expected outcomes. Any issues or defects discovered during this phase are documented, reported, and tracked for resolution.
The defect management process involves prioritizing and addressing the identified issues, ensuring they are fixed before the software is released.
Keep in mind that the testing itself does not involve steps to diagnose the nature of any bugs uncovered. This activity would not occur until the follow-up “defect management” stage. Based on details collected during testing, developers can then analyze the underlying causes of glitches, issues, and errors, and implement fixes.
Getting your software ready for launch
User acceptance testing (UAT) is often the final step before a software product is ready to launch. This means it’s critical to be thorough and exhaustive in your testing, to ensure that all functions, features, and flows have been validated and all issues found. Minimizing the chances of a bug or other issue making it into the released product is crucial for success in the market.
User acceptance testing (UAT) vs user testing
Are user acceptance testing and user testing the same thing? It’s easy to think so: the two methods have a lot of similarities, and they do overlap in both approach and aims. However, there are differences between the two.
Mainly, the difference between UAT and user testing is the primary research intention. UAT is a more technically-focused process, concerned most of all with finding bugs and validating the functionalities of the system. It is a very formal approach, in which the product is evaluated against an exact list with predefined acceptance criteria. While it may sometimes uncover UX & usability issues, this is not really the purpose of UAT.
User testing, on the other hand, is a process that is sharply focused on the UX (user experience). The essential goal of user testing is to evaluate the intuitiveness and ease of use of a digital product.
Like user acceptance testing, the central exercise of this method involves sending users through a platform to perform assigned tasks. However, in user testing these participants will constantly vocalize their feelings and thoughts, giving feedback to the product creators which is more opinion-based compared to UAT sessions.
Watch: See user testing examples
Facilitators of a user testing study are not just interested in whether things work or don’t work. They are also trying to learn how the user’s mindset, opinions, and expectations affect their interactions with the system. They are trying to uncover where in the designs there is room to improve the experience further – even in places where it is already technically working.
Of course, user testing will sometimes uncover bugs and technical issues as the users perform their tasks, but this is not the primary purpose.
The difference in goals between these 2 methods is also reflected in the timing of each activity in the larger product development cycle.
UAT is done at the very end of development, right before launch, in order to validate that everything is finished, working, and ready to go.
User testing can (and if possible, should) be done iteratively throughout the development cycle. Often, the first round of user testing happens in the early prototyping phase. There may be more rounds of tests as the prototypes are refined and finalized; then again when the product has been built in a staging environment. Typically a round is done after launch as well.
Read more: User testing prototypes and wireframes
In essence, user testing is a more rapid, iterative process, that companies engage in to optimize the designs of their products and ensure the best possible user experience.
Nonetheless, both methods share plenty of overlap, and can be seen as related approaches to evaluating digital product performance.
Trymata and user acceptance testing
Thanks to the similarities between user testing and user acceptance testing, Trymata’s user testing suite can easily be used to perform effective UAT.
Our simple test setup process allows you to enter your web address and input all the task instructions you want users to perform on your site. For each task, you can also include a completion question so participants can verify the functionality of every step. Then, you can send your test out to your own customers or contacts, or have Trymata recruit users to take the test.
When the testing is finished, you’ll receive graphs showing the completion rates of all your tasks, so you can instantly identify any problem spots. You can also choose to collect usability scores for each task, and overall evaluation scores.
Read more: Quantitative website UX metrics
Besides these quantitative metrics, you can have your participants fill out a written survey as well, which can be customized with multi-choice and slider rating questions.
Lastly, you’ll be able to play back the video recording of any user’s session, so you can watch them perform each task and see the exact sequence of events leading up to every bug, glitch, or error.
Running your user acceptance tests with Trymata eliminates the hard work of test setup and facilitation, saving you time and money. All you have to do is plug in your URL and tasks, and we’ll take care of the rest! Not only that, but you’ll get plenty of extra UX insights on top of your UAT findings!
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