[wp-hackers] User Feedback and Testing
ringmaster at midnightcircus.com
Wed Jan 4 19:43:14 GMT 2006
David House wrote:
> As for usability, we don't need a centralised usability-bugs-finding
> service. If you want to do a usability report (we've had one in the
> past ), go ahead.
> : http://comox.textdrive.com/pipermail/wp-hackers/2005-April/000602.html
I think the intent of my original message got lost.
There is no escaping the importance of thorough bug testing, but let's
set aside that issue for now.
I think that usability testing like that provided in the link above can
be useful, but it's not what I'm talking about. "Usablilty" in this
sense is how well a user is able to navigate the interface. That is
useless when the features that the user wants aren't present or don't
work. WordPress developers need to take a harder look at what actual
in-the-trenches WordPress users are doing with WordPress and then
respond to their needs.
The primary response to the 2.0 release from people who are not
upgrading is essentially this: Version 2.0 offers me nothing I want
that I don't already get from 1.5.2, and makes some of my more important
plugins break, so why should I bother?
I suppose that many of the enhancements to WordPress are under the
surface. But it's pretty clear from the comments I've received that
those features that are visible to users are not enticing them to
upgrade. Those users who were pleased enough by the upgrade that they
felt compelled to comment were often vague in their reasons for doing so.
Amusingly, most people who have upgraded and commented that WordPress
2.0 is good are people who describe the goodness as "The install went
fine." They don't provide the reason that they upgraded besides there
being a new version to try. I would expect that some would say, "I
upgraded because I wanted the WYSIWYG editor." I didn't see much of
that at all. The features that they liked surprised me, too.
The most-lauded new features of WordPress were the new included plugins.
Most folks didn't seem to care much about many other of the software
enhancements. Asking users not just what they want but how they want it
to be done could have been useful in the development process.
What I'm suggesting is a complete rethinking of the WordPress
First, we need to discover what the users want WordPress to do, and
perhaps what users will want WordPress to do in the future. Then decide
on features to implement those requirements. Code those features.
Provide enough time for testing of those features, while instituting a
support structure for it. Getting thorough bug testing is only a part
of a development plan.
I think these initial ideas about how to go about instituting better bug
testing are pretty good, and we should follow through on them. But we
should do this as part of an overall development plan, not just
something we slap onto whatever output the project ends up producing.
I'm sure that a dedicated testing group would rather test bugs on
features that they would want to have for themselves, and would produce
better reports as a result.
I recommend the book "Software Project Survival Guide" by Steve C
McConnell as reading for such an endeavor, which gives some advice on
forming requirements for a project, and producing estimates for project
duration. This could be useful for producing a plan of attack for
WordPress 2.5 or 3.0.
More information about the wp-hackers