If you’re reading this, you’re most likely involved in building software products — which means that you’re actually in the business of solving user experience problems. Solutions to UX problems are the foundation of any viable product, whether it’s a problem your users already knew they had or one they didn’t realize until you showed them a new path. And when building your product, few things are more important than an integrated product team that considers user experience from start to finish and all along the way.
While user interface and user experience design are both core functions primarily initiated by a design team, when we talk about integrated teams, user experience is highly influenced by every member on the product team. Because it is an integral component of building a successful product, the user experience of a product becomes a shared responsibility of every team member. With an integrated team, the diversity of background, thought, and perspective enables the conception, execution, and delivery of proper, user-focused solutions — together.
QA has entered the chat…
Last week, I wrote about Quality Assurance’s ability to mitigate risk, but let’s consider their role with respect to user experience. If building solutions to user experience problems is the responsibility of everyone on an integrated team, how do QA engineers specifically contribute and help improve the overall design of a product?
Dan and I sat down with QA Engineers Katrina Ohlemacher and Jonathan Guest on Labs Live to talk about what it means to have integrated product teams, what the delivery process looks like, and the merits of having integrated QA Engineer team members. One of the highlights of the conversation was the role of QA engineers as advocates of the user and how QA engineers’ presence improves the overall user experience of the product.
QA plays an integral role in the user experience of the product in the following ways.
QA advocates for different types of users of the product
Ultimately, QA engineers are advocates for the user. As part of their daily workflow, QA engineers take on different user personas in an effort to empathize with and simulate how different people would use the product. For example, how would someone in a time crunch use the product quickly to achieve their goal without errors? Or how would someone who isn’t very familiar with the product use it?
Pondering these questions and role-playing through various scenarios enable QA engineers to be effective advocates for different types of users. QA engineers effectively encourage product teams to continuously seek answers to the question: how can the product team make the user experience for every type of user as easy as possible?
QA provides user experience feedback to the design team
Whereas other members of a cross-functional team largely find themselves building the product or shepherding it along, QA’s day-to-day involves using the app in as many ways as possible. QA engineers can recognize opportunities for improvements in user experience and relay that user feedback to the design team. For example, a QA engineer might notice a button is not in an intuitive place because, during daily use, they happen to push the wrong button every single time. Or they could recommend accessibility improvements like changes in color contrast to make the product more inclusive for people who have a visual impairment.
QA engineers cultivate really great relationships with designers and work hand-in-hand with designers and the rest of the integrated product team to improve the user experience of the product. Having that open relationship helps the QA engineer, helps the designer, and helps the product and the user in the end.
User experience design is a team sport, and that’s why integrated teams are best suited to deliver the best solutions with quality user experience. QA engineers play a critical role because the uniqueness of their role allows them to provide timely feedback on designs and advocate continuously for every user of the product.
If you’d like to learn more about the role and benefits of QA Engineers on integrated teams, check out the full episode of Labs Live.
What’s Labs Live?
Labs Live is a stream hosted by Detroit Labs’ very own Dan Ward and Tobi Adebisi, where they bring on guests from the Labs team and our clients to talk about the latest in technology, software design and development, and whatever else comes to mind. Labs Live is streamed live each month on YouTube and LinkedIn. Subscribe and follow to receive notifications for upcoming episodes.