Empathy is the Foundation of Testing with Jenny Bramble and Erin Hess

For our final long-form talk of TestBash Home 2021, @jennydoesthings and @girlfromspace take to the stage to explore how we can better understand our userbase and ensure that we’re designing and testing products that our users like and want to use.

We’ll use this Club thread to share resources mentioned during the session and answer any questions we don’t get to during the live session.


Questions we didn’t get to

  1. Deborah Reid> How did your lives overlap and how did you find each other (with similar goals and passions about testing, empathy, cats etc)?

  2. Deborah Reid> You mentioned one can ‘develop empathy’? How do you do that?

  3. Edward Basham> Do you ever get to directly see the positive effects of your work on end users?

  4. Kate Drennen> Do you have ways to gather data/metrics about the different personas using your apps?

  5. Conrad Braam> Empathy is a great way to explore personas. Can we measure the effect empathy has on process& quality, I mean, like when to stop?

Resources mentioned












Yes, sometimes!! I have met with end users who I have advocated features for in the past, like a dyslexic font in a reading app. It makes me very happy to see that I can have an impact on peoples quality of life because I care enough to include accessibility testing early on in the development process.

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I say as a human being, to develop empathy means to YOU learn and grow empathy skills/mindset. To do that, expose yourself to scenarios that might make you uncomfortable, but you will learn something.
Try to do a day-to-day task that you may take for granted, but do it with a blindfold on to experience what having no vision is like. Or taking a shower for example. If you were bound to a wheelchair, that task might not be so easy for you.
What you will begin to realize (hopefully) are the barriers disabled users deal with, and this should encourage you to try and find ways to help or eliminate those barriers. A real world example of this would be wheelchair ramps or brail signs, and in the IT world it would be accessibility settings like voiceover or a high contrast color mode.
The goal is ultimately expose yourself to different ways other humans experience the world (real and digital), to grow your knowledge, perspective, and understanding … and help to make it a better place for all of us.

Deborah Reid> How did your lives overlap and how did you find each other (with similar goals and passions about testing, empathy, cats etc)?

I love this story! Erin and I were in a lightning talk session organized by @tristan.lombard. She was talking about accessibility and I was talking about how the origins of the song Wagon Wheel mirrors software development. As we were chatting before the session kicked off, she and I started riffing on testing, accessibility, empathy…we realized that the passion that we have for testing was born from the same path (support) and that when we said ‘empathy is the foundation of testing’ someone in the meeting disagreed with us. Like I told Erin, any time you say something that someone disagrees with, you should re-evaluate your stance…or give a talk on it. :smiley:

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