[Keynote] Real Life Is Not an Edge Case


Our testing typically separates user interactions into “”happy paths”” and “”negative paths,”” following standard use cases to discover flaws. But we can go beyond mere personas or paths and delve into stress cases – situations that reflect life’s unpredictable nature, where the so-called “”edge cases”” are the norm. These are the moments when digital experiences unwittingly evoke pain, like a social media feature that resurfaces painful memories, or an ad that interrupts an urgent search for help. Stress cases encompass real-world scenarios. They are the intersection of user experience and human complexity, and a powerful framing for building software that is kinder to users.

In this talk we examine stress cases in-depth, urging a shift in perspective to prioritize them in our testing processes. We’ll demonstrate how stress case consideration creates new ways to think about accessibility, and we’ll discuss how refining user flows can universally elevate user experience. We’ll also address stress case limitations and the imperative for diverse viewpoints. Finally, we will learn specific techniques to cultivate digital empathy and craft experiences that anticipate real-world complexity.


Key takeaways:

  • When we build software for people who are under stress, we build better software.
  • Uncovering stress cases is worthwhile and manageable.
  • Shifting our perspective about our users make our software better.