Research results so far, and a request for your help

I’m now half way through my research on testers’ experiences with tools and automation, with an end date of October 2025. Thank you everyone who contributed their stories and comments to the data so far. I have published three papers (below)

My findings so far provide an insight into the usability and human issues that impede success with tools and automation, and also show the large range of people’s backgrounds before they come into testing. These findings, along with the complexity of testers’ multi-tasking roles means that designing tools for testers, automation for testers, and approaches for testers to use, is not easy.

I’m embarking on the next stages of my research. I’m asking some deceptively simple questions: Who are we testers? Where do we come from? What are we doing? And how are we doing it? The answers are not as straightforward as we might think. But they should feed into development of personas and other models to better tool design, with a better UX for the testers. They also feed into a better understanding of each other, of the diversity in our community of testers, and help us engage with each other – because not everyone doing testing is a tester, and not everyone working in IT is an engineer.

Please contribute to this research – if you have software testing as part of your role: please complete this survey.

The academic papers have more details and argumentation. If you would like copies of these papers, links are below. Note that the published copies are generally behind pay walls from the publishers. Pre-publication drafts can be made freely available, please contact me at

[a] I. Evans, C. Porter, M. Micallef, and J. Harty, “Stuck in limbo with magical solutions: The testers’ lived experiences of tools and automation,” in Proceedings of the 15th International Joint Conference on Computer Vision, Imaging and Computer Graphics Theory and Applications. SCITEPRESS-Science and Technology Publications, 2020, pp. 195–202. Link: Stuck in Limbo with Magical Solutions

[b] I. Evans, C. Porter, and M. Micallef, “Scared, frustrated and quietly proud: the testers’ experiences of tools and automation,” in 2021 European Conference on Cognitive Ergonomics. ECCE, in press, accepted by 2021 conference. Link: Scared, Frustrated and Quietly Proud

[c] I. Evans, C. Porter, M. Micallef, and J. Harty, “Test tools: an illusion of usability?” in 2020 IEEE International Conference on Software Testing, Verification and Validation Workshops (ICSTW). IEEE, 2020, pp. 392–397. Link: Test Tools: An Illusion of Usability?