Sending out the word of mouth about Testuff to the further reaches of cyberspace has yielded some stimulating feedback. Out of all things that are Testuff though, what seems to really get people are the smallest things of all – the Testuff icons.

Selected testimonials below:

The GUI is a bit colorful and kitschy – it’s recommended to consult a GUI expert.

I know in your blog you mention it, but the icons are terrible for a business-oriented application. Far too cutesy. I wouldn’t want to demo this to my VP for budget approval.

…regarding the icons. I’m all for a different look but they are a little too fair to one side, professional can be boring but it’s the ‘professionals’ who will sign off on the money to purchase the product.

Let’s see those pesky icons again:

As I mentioned in the first post, when seeing the Testuff icons for the first time I too thought that they are a bit childish, that they look like game icons or IM icons and I recommended to replace them. What in the world is a monkey and some emoticons doing in a test management application!? This is unprofessional was my immediate thinking.

My problem, and I suspect that this is why we get such remarks about our icons, is that we’ve been conditioned. We’ve been conditioned by GUI designers, or lack thereof, that icons in test management software, or any professional software for that matter all look the same. They are boring. They have the same sleek, shiny, generic unisex look with gray all around.

For instance, just take a look at 3 different IDEs – Eclipse, Visual Studio, and Borland Power Builder. Putting aside functionality and everything else but the GUI design, don’t they look pretty much the same? See for yourself, compare and contrast:

Yes, but icons have to look professional since the decision makers who will decide whether to buy Testuff or not are big time managers… It may be hard to believe, but behind every professional and big time manager, well, maybe behind most big time managers, there is a human being. And this human, does he or she want more boredom? More gray? More of the same? Maybe some of them do. Or at least pretend so. That’s because those above and around them pretend that that’s what they want too.

At one of my previous workplaces there was a mess hall where we would eat our chow at lunch time. That place was designed to keep you out of there and send you running back to your desk ASAP. All the windows were covered so that you couldn’t see at all what was going on in the outside world. The colors decorating this great hall were gray and black with a few small exceptions of the company logo in yellow and orange. Everyone sat at big tables and didn’t enjoy their food to the constant buzzing in the background of people talking about work.

Say there was an alternative mess hall. One with big open windows to the outside, with smaller booths to hang out, a place that looked like one of those colorful lounge bars with funky pieces of vintage decor you wouldn’t see elsewhere and unusual lighting. Which one do you think most employees would prefer? That gray prison which makes you want to escape back to your desk in despair, or the lounge bar? I clearly say that the answer is door number 2. Let the accountants, the kiss up “example givers” and whatnot have their gray no-outside world mess hall.

So if we like color, fun, and uniqueness in our lives, and we sometimes go to extreme lengths to get it, like traveling half way across the world, or spending a lot of money on things that look great, why the hell do we settle for boring GUIs? I’m afraid that the answer is just because it has been this way so far, and blimey, we got used to it.

Yes, the Testuff GUI will alienate some people as being “unprofessional”. That’s perfectly fine. We don’t write Testuff for these kind of square minded boring go with the flow kind of people anyway.

The kind of people we write Testuff for are the alive and kicking. The thrill seeking testers who love life and expose the application under test as fuller of holes than Swiss cheese. The kind of people that have fun doing QA, that see colors in the gray world that society tries to impose on them.

Testuff along with its funky icons is written for these in mind, to be different, funky, and colorful. Not to look like all the other test management software out there, and not to be like the other test managements out there. Testuff was founded on the premise that most test management software sucks and feels as a burden for the QA that are forced to use it. However, the stronger premise is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Test management software can kick ass just as good as other software, and look great while doing it.

I apologize if this may seem like some sort of marketing speech, but believe it or not this is the philosophy behind Testuff. Plenty of people may reject it. Let them do so, allow them to dis our icons. But if somewhere in there you relate to some of the things I said, give those cutesey icons some time, and they may grow on you. Maybe you’ll start to see things different, at least to break away from the boring GUI = professional GUI conception that has been imposed upon you.