An introduction to remote user acceptance testing

Remote user acceptance testing is where testers access a website or application from a remote location. This has certain advantages. For example, testers can “play the customer”, accessing a website using different browsers and/or operating systems to reveal how a website may act on different platforms, say Android as opposed to Windows.
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It also enables testers to determine how an application will interact with other software in ways that are not available in onsite tests.

Remote user acceptance testing can be done from a home or office and enables the product to be accessed just as any customer would. This enables fresh eyes to view the software from a detached point of view by keeping testers at arms length from the initial development.

UAT can be burdensome and use up time and money, redirecting the efforts of subject matter experts who could be more profitably employed elsewhere. It was traditionally regarded as a distraction and as a result was frequently pushed off to the very end of the development process. This often caused websites and applications to be released without sufficient testing of the user interface and causing PR nightmares for the companies involved, not to mention their call centres being swamped with complaints. Remote UAT solved this problem by taking up the burden and providing accurate testing in alignment with the brief which did not interfere with the day to day priorities of the stakeholders involved.

Remote user acceptance testing also has another advantage. While function testers and developers validate the software’s operation against specifications, it is still possible for remote UAT testers to be used to test various elements of an application before these are integrated into the final program. In particular, ensuring testers are not provided with a set of instructions or predicted customer scenarios, allows the digital product to be tested as the “real” customer would do so. This helps find bugs early and speeds the development process.

It’s important to realise that the functional test team cannot possibly account for all real world scenarios in the functional testing environment. The same is true of internal UAT teams who generally don’t have the resources to account for every possibility. And so, it is important that remote usability testing be an important part of the development cycle.

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