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Definition: first-time user


The very first time someone uses a computer, a software application or anything else for that matter. Everyone is a first-time user when they are confronted with the user interface in an app, a control panel on a home appliance or even the dashboard in a new car. See first-time reader and RTFM.

Even IT Pros Struggle
Software engineers are first-time users when they work with a comprehensive software tool for the first time. Experienced programmers often struggle to learn a new development environment, because the names chosen to describe every element and process are arbitrary and not always well thought out. In fact, software tools are sometimes downright indecipherable for the first-time user, and the industry as a whole is oblivious to this fact. Of course, after the struggle is over and used every day, what was once awful becomes commonplace. The result is a huge amount of satisfaction, along with an equal amount of job preservation. See naming fiascos.

There Aren't Enough Inhouse Testers
When testing a new software application, there are rarely enough first-time users available to do the job efficiently. After the first round of testing is evaluated and changes are made, the software is handed out again. However, in most cases, the same people who looked at round one are reviewing it in round two and so on. They are no longer first-time users, and therein lies the problem. Once someone has been exposed to a function, they will retain some of that experience, and although they may find the changes better, they already had some idea about what to expect. Ten testing rounds with 10 people really requires 100 people to do the job right, and that is rarely done. The real testers are the eventual customers, which is why major products are released in beta. See good user interface, user interface and beta version.