The first meeting: Sometimes in testing, knowing nothing is knowing everything

Last month I did a one-week project where I put an app through usability testing. The company that hired me was very careful not to tell me a lot about the app and their system, since they wanted me to see it for the first time. That was a very wise decision on their part. While I performed the first testing, and got to know the app, I was struck with the value of this very first meeting with the system.

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Let’s draw… A server!

Servers are generally depicted as either a square computer hard disc as we know them from stationary computers, or large, square boxes with smaller square discs inserted (Which also looks a lot like a stationary computer). I wish there was some cool story behind their look, but there isn't. That's just how they look.

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Lets draw… Wireless network!

There are two well established icons or symbols that are used when we're talking wireless networks. There is a difference between the two. One is the transmitter of a wireless network, the other is a hot-spot of a wireless network.

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Let’s draw… A database!

I've only recently gotten to know databases. How they work, SQL and the different scripts you can use. I love it. I think it's so much fun going into different databases when testing, viewing, comparing, joining and editing them. Even though the amount of trouble you can cause in there is immense.

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Le’ts draw… some IT related concepts!

When drawing and explaining at the same time, it doesn't have to be pretty. It has to be clear. What's important is to capture the essence of the thing you're trying to draw. The essence of a tree isn't it's beautiful and detailed leaves. It's a trunk with two branches. No need to use time on drawing anything else, if people get that what you've drawn is a tree.

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