Great customer experiences do not happen overnight. In product design, the customer experience encompasses everything the product team does. Development, design, DevOps, and QA - every role impacts the customer experience, especially the design and user experience.
Quality assurance in software development should not just be limited to the finished product. Design QA is a concept that promotes reviewing the visual design to ensure that the design and development teams are on the same page.
What is Design QA?
Design QA (Quality Assurance) is a step in the process between development and testing. In this process, designers review the coded version of the UI before testing. They work with the developers to make updates to the UI if it is necessary.
Why is Design QA important?
When the design team sends the final design to the development team, they expect the final product to come out just like they designed it. Nevertheless, due to understanding gaps between both parties, inconsistencies crawl up.
This is where design QA comes in. Quality assurance overlooks the final design and identifies the area where the design is not up to the mark.
Generally, we see a conflict between designers and developers in working together. With the design QA process, developers can understand the importance of designers, and designers can understand the limitations of developers and model their design process accordingly. Eventually, it leads to a smoother design process.
Consistency is must-have for a good product design. When a product is designed, inconsistencies can muster up over time and become design debt. Design debt refers to all the shortcuts you take and all the good design practices you overlook to reach a short-term goal. It is a major reason for undesirable user experiences. The final product will be a disjointed, inconsistent, and patched-together product
Design QA can be a challenge
Good design practice should not be a one-time thing but something you follow throughout the development process. Nevertheless, many times, design QA can be challenging. Most companies go through this mindset which can lead to such challenges:
- Most of the time, companies or development teams value functionality over good design. There should not be a tradeoff between these two.
- People do not see the difference between a design and a poorly coded version.
- When the project is running low on time, it is easier to cut on design than coding.
Speed or Quality?
Most product teams run on feature delivery mode. This invites the risk of the agile team losing sight of the bigger picture when trying to close as many tickets as possible before the sprint ends. In the race between speed and quality, quality always loses. The integrity of the design is lost, and so is the quality of the user experience.
What can you do?
As mentioned earlier, good design practice should not be a one-time thing but something that is religiously followed through the development process. Companies and teams should create processes that foster good design outcomes.
Make it a part of your process
Agile teams work in sprints where testing is one of the parts of the workflow. When a ticket in the development process is resolved, usually, a developer working on the ticket moves it up to testing. When there is no dedicated step for design QA, people decide for themselves that the design implementation is good.
The above illustration shows how your workflow might look like with design QA included. If the teams agree that design is important for them, they can work on making design QA an integrated part of their workflow so that it becomes unskippable. It will reflect that the team values design implementation as an essential part of the process.
Include developers in the design process
Another key point that teams do not consider is including developers in the design process. After all, it is the developer’s responsibility to implement that design. So why not include them since the start? You can go about including them by following these practices:
- Discussing the requirements of a feature before beginning to designing
- Talking out technical details that will impact design decisions
- Sketching out initial design solutions together
- Share designs with them throughout the process to get feedback
If your products are not delivering excellent design solutions or the gap between the design and development process is huge, design QA is the way to go. Agile teams can make the most out of their sprints by making design QA an essential part of the process.
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