How (and Why) You Should Include Designers in Your QA Process
Discover the benefits and possible pitfalls of QA, and check out these tips for successful design QA.
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Find out why you should include designers in your QA process, which challenges you can encounter, and how to implement design QA in your work process.
Design QA is the process of making sure that the initially conceived design is correctly deployed in the product. Since designers are the ones to have hands-on involvement in the design stage of development, it makes perfect sense to make them part of the testing stage.
Find out why you should do it, which challenges you can encounter, and how to implement design QA in your work process.
Why design QA is so important
If you’ve never seriously considered including designers in your design QA, here are a few facts that will inspire you to try it.
1. Effective collaboration within the team
When the testers are the only ones participating in the QA process, the team risks running into a broken telephone situation, where issues are reported along the chain. This, in turn, can lead to information being distorted and misunderstood. When the QA team includes not just testers, but also designers, the communication within the team can achieve maximum efficiency.
2. Little to no design debt
When you want to roll out the product as soon as possible with as many innovative features as you can, design often becomes an afterthought. This, in turn, leads to design debt. Regular design QA is one of the most effective ways to eliminate design debt since it allows you to nip the problem in the bud before it does any serious damage.
3. User satisfaction
The importance of UX design for a positively received product cannot be overstated. A well-designed product will meet the goals set by the team and will ensure a high level of user satisfaction. This is why design QA in general and usability testing, in particular, should not be skipped in your quality assurance process.
Possible challenges of design QA
Working with designers and design teams can be challenging, and that is especially true when we are talking about something as complex and sensitive as testing a product. Like any major alteration in a tried and tested procedure, adding designers to your QA team can take some time to settle in. These are the three potential pitfalls you can encounter during this time.
1. Working under time constraints
Keeping up with the speed of the development process is often challenging for testers, let alone when designers are involved. Plus, new features are unrolled faster than it takes to achieve a consistent design.
2. Design isn’t always a top priority for developers
It’s not uncommon for developers to be so focused on technology and functionality that they don’t view design as something equally important. This is why it can be hard to convince the developer to treat design as a priority.
3. Additional resources are required
Adding designers to your QA team requires you to allocate more time and money for the process than you originally anticipated. And the fact that designers are going to be involved often means their other projects will take longer to complete.
How we include design QA practices with in-house and client projects
Introducing design QA into the software development workflow can be complicated for an outsourcing company. Many clients consider design and UI/UX testing as the only two design-related steps in a project’s life cycle. So, it’s frequently our responsibility to be proactive and encourage the inclusion of design QA as a necessary step.
This is how we introduce design QA into client projects:
1. Make the Case for Design QA
The best way to ensure the implementation of design QA is to have all parties on board. So, the first step for every client project we take on is discussing design QA as a necessary step for a successful project. If the client is on board—great. If not, there are ways to break this stage into smaller steps that won’t be able to replace it, but will still ensure most bases are covered.
2. Collect Design Artifacts
When we are responsible for the entire project lifecycle, we have everything we need. Our in-house designers create the UI mockups and then check the developed project again before it proceeds to further testing. If we are only responsible for development or testing, we have to request that the design artifacts get sent to us by the client’s designers.
3. Create a Style Guide
Attention to detail is a requirement for everyone working on software, but the details that developers care about can be different from the details that are important for designers. Smaller projects usually have every single screen, button, and interaction layer out in the form of mockups, but that might not be the case on large software suites.
To bridge that gap, it often helps if the design team prepares a design guide for developers to use throughout development. This can be presented in the form of a brand book with color values, standardized element dimensions in pixels, or even a design system document that can be referenced by anyone in the design team when they have a question.
4. Double-check UI elements in-house
Before we present anything to our clients, we have our in-house designers take a quick look at the developed project. This can’t always substitute a dedicated session design QA session, but we’ve been able to catch (and fix) small inconsistencies ahead of time.
5. Ask for client feedback
Clients are often much more attuned to their project’s design language and will notice inconsistencies developers may have overlooked. If we are working with a client that enjoys regular communication and a more hands-on approach to working with outsourced teams, we will present them with progress reports and collect feedback. Very often, this will include feedback on the UI and UX elements of a project.
Top 5 tips for setting up your design QA process
Ready to make some fundamental changes in the testing operations at your company? Here are 5 tips for giving a smooth start to the design and UI/UX testing process.
1. Start the design QA early
Giving a late start to the testing process continues to be one of the biggest challenges in the industry with a variety of negative consequences, including driving up the costs. Getting the designers involved from the very beginning will make the process more effective in terms of both costs and effort.
2. Get your priorities straight
The question of priorities will always come up sooner or later. Does your team care more about releasing the product as soon as possible or do you want to take the time to ensure it’s flawless before the release? Your answer will determine your approach to the process and the steps your team will take first.
3. Try every possible scenario
In addition to testing on a wide range of physical devices, you also need to take user scenarios into account. Using different scenarios is integral for effective design and interface testing. Before you begin the process, you need to have a comprehensive list of scenarios in which the users can potentially interact with your product.
4. Collect detailed feedback
Detailed feedback is what allows the QA design process to move forward and deliver results. Feedback can come from developers, designers, project managers, or even people who didn’t have any prior experience with the project. It’s also vital to pick one channel for delivering the feedback instead of constantly switching between email, messengers, and task managers.
5. Document everything extensively
Discovering the issues is only half the battle—documenting them and being very detailed is essential for resolving the existing problems and preventing them in the future. Being able to easily replicate the steps is part of every winning QA strategy.
The important thing to remember is that QA is not an isolated process performed by a strictly limited number of testing team members. It’s a collaborative effort where every input matters and can lead to better results. Adding the design aspect to the mix helps ensure the quality of the product and helps it meet its goals, and that is why more and more companies are now doing it.
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