Track Talk W12

Empathy in Software Testing: Putting People First in a Software-Driven World

Ben Simo

13:45-14:45 Wednesday 12th June

Software has become an omnipresent actor in society. It is no longer just for “technical” people but an integral part of modern life. This talk explores the vital role of empathy in software testing and the relationships people have with the software we test.

Software is for people. It has the potential to bring joy, yet it often injects frustration. In the pursuit of “done”, it’s easy for software creators and testers to lose sight of their work’s impact on real people. Our users’ experiences with software impacts their lives – for better and for worse. Software testing is not only about the technology. It is about people.

Few people use software for the sake of using software. Most use software in pursuit of goals that were once met without software — being entertained, managing finances, staying connected, or planning a vacation. Sometimes people use software under duress to comply with authorities. The software we test often plays an influential role in people’s lives. Therefore, it’s crucial to practice empathy. This involves considering users’ perspective and emotional state when we design tests, identify bugs, and advocate for improvement.

We can shift towards a more people-centered approach, recognizing that anything that bugs someone may be a bug. We can help our organizations deliver software that not only functions correctly but also fosters positive relationships. This is the heart of quality.