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The growing importance of user acceptance testing

The importance of user experience testing has grown in direct proportion to the complexity of what is being tested. There was a time when software UAT didn’t even exist because software did not exist. There was no such thing when Charles Babbage started work on his “difference engine” way back in the early 1800s.
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User acceptance testing was conceived in 1951 with Juran's Quality Control Handbook when Joseph M. Juran defined quality as “fitness for use.” And it was born that same year when Armand Vallin Feigenbaum pointed out that quality was directly related to the customer’s evaluation. He stated that a quality product was defined as one that meets or exceeds the customer’s needs, from the customer’s perspective.

The Definitive Guide To User Acceptance Testing (UAT) is a detailed, template-rich resource for conducting end-to-end user acceptance testing. It is available for free here.

UAT stayed in the background for many years. The primary reason for this was the type of programming being done. Programs were written to accomplish specific and often specialized tasks that only specialists cared about. On top of that, the platforms in use were not designed to be user friendly. Then, in 1968, UAT popped up in a NATO working paper containing a software testing checklist that defined quality as that which not only performed the desired function, but was also the most useful to the customer.

Still, it took quite a while for the concept of user acceptance to get spread around. It wasn’t until the advent of sophisticated, and often multi-purpose, platforms that user acceptance testing began to reach the level of importance it occupies today. Modern platforms are no longer relegated to the realm of the specialist, they have become part of our daily lives. They take a multitude of forms, from the laptop in the briefcase to the coffee maker on the kitchen counter. They regulate and will soon drive our cars, not to mention hospitals couldn’t function without them.

There are also the vast number of applications being developed everyday. Programs are constantly being written for numerous purposes and it is people who define and redefine what those purposes are. Where once the user had to do what was acceptable to the machine, now the machine must do what is acceptable to the user.

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