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User Experience Assurance (UXA) — UX Testing

Double checking the experience being delivered

- Kirit Lakhani, UX Lead @ Zycus Inc.
8th July 2017

Are you double checking the end experience being delivered to your users? Does it comply with the experience you intended to deliver when the product was in design phase?

Software development life cycle (SDLC), is a process used by the software industry to design, develop and test high quality softwares. Recently there are several form of development cycle which has evolved like Lean or Agile methodologies to develop softwares and products. A typical SDLC begins from collecting requirements and goes all the way through design, development, testing and finally maintenance. What I really want to focus in this article is the testing phase of SDLC. What most of you are aware of by the term testing in a software development life cycle is to test that the developed code is tested against the requirements to make sure the product is actually catering the needs gathered in requirements phase. Testing phase generally consists of functional testing like unit testing, integration testing, system testing and acceptance testing.
checklist for uxa
What most of the development cycles misses out on is the user experience testing. Once the product development is done it passes through the rigorous cycle of Quality Checks (QCs) to ensure that the product meets all the technical requirements and specifications without any bugs or defects. It includes all the regression tests and several other test cases which makes sure the code is BUG FREE. But, one thing that is mostly let go in this process is to ensure the experience delivered by the product is bug free. I mean it has to be BUG FREE, no matter which industry segment your product belongs to or whether your business is B2B (enterprise facing) or B2C (consumer facing) it has to be BUG FREE.

There is nothing known as B2B or B2C business, all business are only H2H which is Human to Human.

If someone asks me what is the difference between experience delivered by B2B or B2C products, I would say there is absolutely NO difference in the kind of experience that should be delivered by products in either of the ‘business segments’. I strongly support the ideology that all businesses lie in only one segment which is H2H (Human to Human). As, in the end it is a human user who is going to use your product or services and the experience delivered by your B2B or B2C product should ideally be comparable to experience delivered by the best in class experiences delivered by Ubers and Airbnbs. If you are trying to defend the poor experience of your app by saying that it is a B2B app, remember the user who is going to use your app will also be using apps like Uber, Airbnb etc and he doesn’t care if the app is B2B or B2C, he is eventually going to compare the experience delivered by all the apps in his phone equally.

What is User Experience Assurance or UXA?

User experience assurance is combination of technical QC Checks and user experience QC checks. In short, UX + QC = UXA

It is different from user testing or design iteration

UXA check is very different from usability tests which are done to ensure that the user habits, likes and dislikes are kept in mind while designing for them. It cannot be also considered as a design iteration which is done to incorporating user insights in the designs. UXA focuses on the quality of user experience in regards to usability, design affordances, findability, content clarity, interactions or appropriate placement of UI elements within the experience. Traditional QA is effective at identifying technical implementation issues (e.g., system errors, incorrect calculations etc.) or often issues with front end design implementations (e.g., CSS misalignment, cross browser differences etc.) but it does not focuses on checking the quality of the experience delivered in the end to the users. At times in some agile sprints, there are new features or UI elements that are added during development. This needs to be verified by the UX team assuring that it does not hamper the experience delivered by the product.

Cost of Bad Design

If there is no UXA check that is done during the product development cycle, it might lead to a bad design being going out in the hands of the users. And for those of you who thinks that good design is expensive, they may want to look at the cost of bad design which may be:
1. You may LOOSE users.
2. You spend more money building and rebuilding.
3. Decrease in efficiency of operations and product interface.
4. Poor brand experience.
5. You loose the opportunity to create more dollar value.
6. You are left with unsatisfied users with poor learn-ability curve.

Value delivered by UXA

Now, this may help you making the decision makers (in case you are not one) in your organization the value which is delivered by making UXA testing a step in product development sprints.
  1. The best value delivered by by incorporating the UXA testing step would be that it would eliminate the cost of bad design going in the hands of the end users.
  2. It is easier and economical to improve the experience when the product has just come out of the development phase.
  3. Some new interactions and user insights or ideas can still be incorporated at this moment hence increasing the value of the experience being delivered.
  4. For some legacy organisations where UX teams often works in isolation, it will help them incorporating the UX team in the mainstream SDLC which increases the efficiency of feature/product being developed.
  5. It ensures strict adherence to human centered design guidelines throughout the product development life cycle.
  6. It also gives a chance of double checking the experience and providing alternative solutions/interactions for exceptional cases.
checklist for uxa

How to do UXA Testing

Following are the key components which would help you doing the UXA testing the way it is meant to be:
1. Verifying the integrity of the user experience is the role of UX and design teams.
2. Use the scenario based use cases written during user research phase and testing its implementation.
3. Checking the interaction with the developed product rather than static screens or prototype.
4. Reading everything and looking at everything.
5. Trying to trigger elementary front end flaws/errors.
6. Doing the visual quality assurance (VQA)
7. Creating and effective bug report.

Elements of an Effective UXA Bug Report

The end result of any step in a software development life cycle is an actionable deliverable. In this case, it is an effective bug report which should be used as a guiding document to make improvements in the experience of a product to make it a Truly Usable Product (TUP).

An effective bug report acts as a guiding document to make a product experience like that of a Truly Usable Product (TUP)

The below mentioned elements are a MUST part of an effective UXA bug report:
1. Steps Taken: explaining how did you found out a problem.
2. Screenshots: easiest way of communicating a visual issue.
3. Device Details: some issues may be specific to a device or a operating system.
4. Annotations: on screenshots to point out the incorrect elements. 5. Video: to illustrate an animation, transition or interaction error.
6. Classifying bugs into medium, high and low impact bugs.
7. Providing possible improvements: Give a list of recommended alternatives to resolve the issue found.

Checklist for UXA Testing

The below list can prove to be handy for UX teams who are doing User Experience Assurance testing. More elements can be added in the list depending upon the type of product being tested. It begins with:
1. Content
2. Graphics and layouts
3. Browser compatibility
4. Device compatibility
5. User preference compatibility: font size, link colors and underlining, plug-ins, window sizes.
6. Common elements like animations, drop down lists, spinners and navigation norms should appear and behave exactly as a user would expect them to be whether it’s on android, iOS or a web browser.
I hope this would help businesses delivering the best experience to their users. Try the process in your teams and see how it helps in improving the end experience being delivered. Thanks for your time and feel free to add your comments below and let me know your thoughts about this article.

Disclaimer: This article was originally published on medium and has been published here with the permission of the author.

Author: Kirit Lakhani, UX Lead @ Zycus Inc.


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