Next Level Ops
Women in Tech: The Importance of Testing with Anne McCarthy
If you’re a developer, you know what it’s like having to test your code. If you’re anything like me, you verify the code works, run a couple of tests…maybe do some automated testing…and hope for the best. Perhaps that approach is OK for pet projects and early-stage projects, but what about for a platform that runs over 40% of the web? For Anne McCarthy, WordPress Product Liaison at Automattic, testing software of this magnitude is one of her primary responsibilities. And she does it well.
- Anne started out as a Happiness Engineer at Automattic, which gives her a unique look at problems users were having and how people were using WordPress.
- At the root level, web development has gotten harder. There’s a bigger learning curve to getting started. BUT theme development, and creating without code, has gotten a lot easier as a result.
- Part of Anne’s approach to testing Full Site Editing is thinking of “all the people I can’t see” and how it’s going to affect them. This keeps her grounded and driven to make sure the software is as good as possible before it gets merged into Core.
- Keeping an open mind definitely helps with this. Don’t get too attached to the work, and don’t take criticism personally.
- As for testing with a wider audience, people in the WordPress space are going out into their communities and doing group testing. This gets people who may not be checking the WordPress Slack (and might not even know it exists!)
- Engaging and listening to users is SO important. “We need to listen to the core audience, the biggest supporters if we want the edge users to believe we’re listening,” says Anne. In other words: why would lesser-known users want to help when they think the biggest voices in the space are being ignored?
- As for how you can test better: work with Designers. They think about users and interactions different and can provide a different perspective.
- Break things into smaller chunks, and as you see patterns, document them!
- Having several ways to test at varying degrees helps.
- When it comes to getting feedback, have a structure to get good feedback, but don’t create too much friction. Having a way to get “bad” feedback makes way for a fruitful conversation.
- You want people to feel heard, but guiding them towards the right channels is something you should actively pursue.