When it comes to quality assurance, there are parts of the QA process that are less or more important, depending on the specified stages in product development.
For example, when the product is in its early stages with testing already included, except that the weight of its priority is on catching bugs and providing functionality that actually works.
However, as the product grows with increasing complexities, the goal is more to provide better quality for the end-user.
In this article, The Importance of Quality Assurance and UX, we will discuss how we need QA in improving product designs and of course, better users experience.
This article will also discuss the following topics:
In the past years, user experience is the basis for differentiating between good applications and great ones.
When it comes to product-building project, the real possibilities for outsized success with products strongly lie in UX. Specifically, when it comes to software, the next killer app will have an instantly usable interface. This has led to a research-based and UX-focused approach to product development.
And the results of this focus speak for themselves.
According to Forrester Research Report, every dollar invested in UX generates $100 in return. Additionally, another study showed that over a 10-year period, the financial performance of design-driven companies surpasses that of the S&P by over 219%.
And of course, we often heard of success stories from simply changing the text on the CTA button, which gained a whopping $300 million in sales to an e-commerce company in just one year.
But of course, beyond these already hyped stories about the results of a great user experience, there are also those products that lack good UX in that department.
The terrible ones are very easy to spot, of course. And there are those who can be challenging to spot, like the products that seem to have a so-so UX, which makes you wonder what is missing or what should not be there.
This is where quality assurance in UX comes into light.
What is QA?
Quality assurance testing (also known as QA) is an essential piece of the product development process. In this project stage, we catch any existing errors before the product is released to the end-user. The goal of quality assurance QA testing is to verify that the product functions as expected and at the same time to find and remove existing bugs before the product launch. Planning and working on products from inception to completion, the importance of QA should not be missed out as it is an important component of the product development process.
The job of an Experience Designer does not end with handing off the designs to the development team. It also involved building and collaborating with teams to help facilitate the creation of the design intention. The design process is a cycle of creating and testing. The same goes for product development.
In the development stage, the cycle involves creating, verifying and testing the product. In this stage, the design QA comes in.
While the product is in the development stage, the UX designer should take ownership of the production. The UX designer is expected to also have a voice in the verification process.
The most common practice is to wait for the design QA team until the product is almost ready to launch. However, this should not be the case.
For example, if design QA is postponed, many of the features would have to get code again to fix UI and interaction issues. This can cause other unforeseen issues. But when design QA is incorporated into the process, then the approval of the features and sign-off are done quickly in one requirement ticket.
Why is there a need for design QA
One of the main characteristics of a good product design is consistency. Over a period and as a product is designed and developed, you can expect a lot of inconsistencies inevitably pile up. And also, over time, you can expect more inconsistencies that can turn into design debt.
The design debt can greatly affect the integrity of the user experience. This often happens when a bunch of incremental changes collect over time and yield a disjointed, inconsistent, and patched-together experience.
And while it can be a challenge to address 100% of inconsistencies every time, doing design QA is a step forward in combatting design debt.
Speed vs. quality
During the process of working together, the product team may sometimes run the risk of getting into feature delivery mode and shipping. This can cause teams to lose sight of the bigger picture and lose focus on important details while trying to close as many tickets as possible. And as a team races to the end of the sprint and increases velocity, this may cause a situation where the integrity of the design implementation can fall down to a time-saving measure.
Collaboration is not enough
We could not stress any further the importance of teamwork and collaboration when it comes to product development. Things such as co-designing at the conceptual stage, designer and developer working side by side, using great tools or software to create transparency and bridging the gap between design and CSS--- are all great and can help. However, all these things don’t take the place of having a QA design engineer formally sign off on code designs before they are shipped and launched to users.
The Benefits of Design QA
We’ve discussed some instances where design QA engineers are needed in product development. Completing design QA in the early stages has several benefits to product development.
We have also learned that when design QA engineers are in parallel with development efforts then the UX designer, will be more aware of any engineering issues in the early stages. Additionally, features can be developed and shipped in one go, without having to go back and do any visual treatments later.
Let us look at some benefits of using design QA:
The UX designer is always in the loop for any technical issues
When the UX Designer is testing features as they are being developed, there will be a higher chance of properly understanding any technical issues that may arise. This helps the designer understand the benefits and detriments of the designs, as well as helps, educate the designers and prevent these issues to happen in the future features.
Collaboration and communication increases
We have discussed previously that collaboration and communication are both key aspects of the team’s success. If everyone is working together and aware of existing issues, then collaboration increased, and it would be easier to find a solution.
Helps build the correct user interface as the product develops
When design QA is part of the product development process, the product is developed and approved brick by brick instead of building the feature and then going back to make UI changes at the end of development. This leads us to another benefit.
The workflow becomes more efficient when developers are creating and completing each feature in one ticket compared to creating the functionality in one sprint and going back to make modifications in another sprint, each item is finished and reviewed in one cycle.
Sheds light on unforeseen bugs
Documenting issues at an early stage may uncover unforeseen and larger issues.
Performing design QA for UX
When it comes to QA in UX, we know that it is good to begin the QA in the beginning stages. Here are several suggested tips to follow when it comes to conducting design QA:
Usability Heuristics for UI Design
Jakob Nielsen’s 10 general principles for interaction design are a reliable reference point for any usability review. You can factor these principles into discussions with your UX team, including test plans. Also worth checking out any basic courses on usability and UX design.
The Principles of Accessibility
You may have done several accessibility tests in the past, but a proper understanding of the principles of accessibility (perceivable, operable, understandable, robust) will help you see what others might miss.
The UX Team
It is important to always get to know the UX team on the project. As we have discussed previously, collaborate with them, share the test plan, and get feedback on what to include from a UX point of view.
The advantage of doing this is two-way as the test plan will give the design team insight into the feasibility of design features that the design team wish to propose. As a QA engineer team, the interaction with the UX team needs to be similarly close to that with the developers.
Include user analytics
The user data analytics that you are testing is a gold mine of information for testers. This can help identify any risk areas and user behavior. In turn, helps to identify and prioritize fixes in the early process of the product life cycle.
Shift Left until you cannot shift any more
Treat any digital product you are testing like a baby and make sure it is getting all the help it needs right from its conception. Go all the way to the beginning.
Test early on the design stage as soon as a prototype is ready. Properly utilize your experience with existing applications with your knowledge of usability principles and accessibility guidelines when it comes to checking for changes to be made before the product moves to the development stage.
If design QA is not yet part of the design phase, make it happen, if possible.
Targeted Manual Testing
Go through the entire user experience of using the digital product from beginning to end as a part of manual testing. Ask the right questions by thinking like a user and a design QA engineer.
A better way to start is by stepping back and looking at the product from a broader perspective. Ask yourself: did you enjoy the entire experience?
Then take a closer look and ask yourself: Is it easy to use? Are the flows obvious and intuitive? Are they tedious and slow? Are there any overlaps or duplication of actions that may prove annoying to the user? Is the design usable at different screen sizes?
The QA process should not be the sole responsibility of the design QA. When it comes to working on a product the UX designer also needs to verify that all designs were implemented as intended. The UX designers need to work with the development throughout the entire product production closely. Properly articulating ideas can help the design QA ship out the product more efficiently.
It always requires collaboration when working on a product, but the UX designer should take ownership of the verification process to ensure the work is portrayed in the final outcome.