User tour and scenario tour

Sometimes while I'm testing a new application, I struggle to get started. To help me focus and better understand my testing, I use application tours to support my testing. Two tours that I use together are the user tour and the scenario tour.

In the user tour you attempt to imagine five users for the product and the information they would want from the product or the major features they would be interested in. In the scenario tour try to imagine five realistic scenarios for how the users identified in the user tour would use this product.

When I’m attempting to imagine users for the product, I find it helpful to think not only about that a user will do, but what they value. I also look to see if there is real user data available in the application I’m testing. Test data is good, but real data offers a different insight into how an actual user will possibly use the system. As you’re attempting to identify your users, don’t forget about users you may not want – hackers and other malcontent, users who don’t know what to they really need to do or how to use it, users who attempt to do too much with the product at one time.

It’s helpful to think about what environments those users will operate in. What access rights they will have. And what common patterns they will follow. Once you know who the users are, think about compelling stories of how they use the product. What inputs do they have and what outputs do they care about? The scenarios you want to identify will be compelling stories of how someone who matters might do something that matters with the product.

For a more descriptive look at using application tours, see an article I did for Software Test and Performance a few years ago. (It starts on page 20.)
HeuristicsMichael Kelly