Quality assurance (QA) processes should assure the quality of the overall user experience of a website, not just the quality of the underlying software.
It is important that the correct quality assurance procedures have been put in place to ensure that the user experience (UX), as well as the technical solution, is of the highest possible quality. We call this “User Experience Assurance”, or “UXA”.
UXA is the combination of UX, QA and Usability processes, intertwined and applied throughout the entire project lifecycle.
QA + Usability
When something within a website fails to function or render correctly, a user will question their understanding of the elements displayed to them and develop ineffective workarounds in order to pursue continued use of the website in question (or discontinue using the website altogether).
Usability defines and comprises many different quantifiable quality traits, such as user satisfaction, ease of use and design efficiency. These are attributes that can be directly linked to quality assurance, guaranteeing good usability from the start of a project when implemented correctly.
Within the context of a new project, an early focus on usability is essential, as it is much easier and much cheaper to fix a bug or design flaw during the initial stages of a project than it is to attempt
fixing it after the project has been launched.
A view could be taken that ultimately, your project will be tested by its real users and it is much better to test your project beforehand so that inevitable issues can be fixed easily and inexpensively (instead of playing a costly game of catch-up post-launch).
QA + UX
When marrying quality assurance with user experience, it is imperative to locate, address and fix any issues that lay past the user interface which may destabilise the entire UX.
Further to this, in relation to QA, fast and concise code is not only a matter of developer gratification; system speed has a major impact upon all areas of usability and user experience, thus having an inverse influence upon quality assurance.
Usability and UX attributes impacted by system speed include:
- Satisfaction; a slow system can be irritating and instantaneously degrades user satisfaction. This may lead the user to stop using the system in question.
- Efficiency; system speed has a direct impact upon the efficiency of use. If each actionable task takes longer to complete, then task performance as a whole becomes slower. Furthermore, users may begin to hesitate conducting useful actions if they are held in contempt to wait for each action to complete.
- Learnability; although not initially evident, users may become confused if they are made to wait. They will develop a reluctance to ascertain new information as a slow system increases the interaction cost.
In addition to system speed, bugs and errors will frustrate users, often preventing them from completing a task and disrupting the overall user experience.
The Need for
Speed Quality Assurance
Issues like this are prevalent upon many of today’s websites and in many cases companies would do well to take QA more seriously. Instead of continually investing in new features, make existing ones robust. Take the approach whereby “when everything we currently have is working, only then will we look at developing new features”.
Similarly, in our recent blog article “Software Engineering – the Driver of All Things Digital” it is stated that without high levels of craft (or “hands-on”) skills we may achieve beautiful design, but we will end up with a poor finished product with prevailing inconsistencies in the UI, a lack of robustness and little protection from errors and unresponsive functionality.
It is important to be passionate about your end product, as you will most definitely achieve better results if you have a greater vested interest in your work.
User experience could be greatly enhanced if it is recognised that quality assurance underpins user satisfaction and consumer confidence. QA, UX and Usability should be recognised within the same context (UXA), in an attempt to increase user satisfaction, ease of use and efficiency.
It is no longer acceptable to present users with bugs, errors or slow systems. In this day and age, technology should just work.