One of the most mortifying things that I recently faced in my work, is reaching out too far. This rushed, unfocused pursuit of doing it all at once is a trait that is particularly exhibited by several young professionals who are looking to set themselves apart through hard work. However this fall is particularly dangerous for people making software products, as the first thing that we drop is proper testing, and we both know that one of the pillars of good UX design is “Test, Test and Test some more!”.
I was reminded of this lesson through some pretty stupid mistakes that i made due to a lack of proper testing .
As Greg Mckowen puts it when explaining the concept of Essentialism in his book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less : ” Commitment to doing the things that are truly important … instead of making a millimeter of progress in a million directions … begin to make tremendous momentum to accomplishing the things that truly matter”.
From the tough corporate environment down to the small startup, one feels the pressure to become jack of all trades. But is a known fact that one simply cannot excel at everything. Not even the legendary UX unicorns attempt that. In fact I have already embraced the fact that I cannot excel at anything without focusing on what really matters.
This renewed belief of mine has resonated with everything that I’ve learned about the importance of essentialism in UX design and all fields related to it such as design, digital marketing, and software solutions design and development. Some of the ways that I feel essentialism could be leveraged in all of these fields are:
1) Ask “What’s the point ?”
Unfortunately and more often than not I find myself working with clients who don’t know why they want a website or an app. They just seem to want it “just for the sake of having it”, “to put it on our business cards”, or quite simply they reply ” I don’t know”. Of course these are not good enough answers for building or designing something meaningful as this requires knowing why you or your client’s users need it. Otherwise users will find themselves in a website that they don’t know what to do in, and they leave!
2) A Focused Message and A Clear Path to walk
One needs to get an in-depth understanding of the company, entity, or service that they are designing and building for. This means learning about almost every aspect of it, especially the parts that customers or users are concerned with.
The market positioning and digital marketing strategy including the taglines, content, and campaigns all depend on that. These, in addition to your user personas and user stories will mandate the navigation and calls to action throughout the flow of the website or App.
The following questionnaires would be a great starting point to gain an insight into the market position and digital marketing strategy of your client. However, do keep in mind that one must not solely base their approach based on the outcome of these questionnaires alone.
3) Quality is what matters so “Test,Test and Test some more!”
As I have said at the beginning of this entry, I was reminded of this the hard way. No matter how productive and fast one is working, if proper testing is neglected, all of the accomplishments shy in comparison of causing a problem for users on a live product.
The golden rule here is ‘Do Not Expect Users to do the Testing for You!‘. As tempting as it might seem to let users find the glitches and fixing them later, I doubt that with this approach we’ll have any users at all.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for productivity and agility and I wouldn’t spend most of my time testing, but finding the right balance is key. How?
- a) Utilize automated testing: for unit testing and test cases that can be auto-tested. This will save time while ensuring that one has sufficient testing on each feature release. An online tool that is great for automated front-end testing is Selenium HQ. One of the advantages that I found when using it is that it can be used for unit test by both front-end engineers and QA’s alike.
- b) Prioritize test cases: When I’ve done my homework on the product I’m working on, then I would already know what test cases are most likely to occur and what areas are more critical for our users. I have to make sure that sufficient testing time is allocated for these in particular.
- c) After optimizing our needed testing time: A general rule of thumb that I follow is to allow around 15% of the iteration time for smoke and unit testing before going to Quality Control. This is something that one has to define based on the product and industry in question. For example, if you are developing a web application that handles money transactions for a bank, more time for testing must be allocated than when working on a portfolio website.
4- Time is a currency that’s only spent – never withdrawn
Time is truly our most valuable asset. How we invest it in defines everything in our lives – especially our careers. Anyone with several interests such as myself can easily find themselves distracted. But at the end of the day I need to put essentialism to good practice. To me what really matters is building solutions and products that feel good to use. So I need to focus on continuous growth in areas of expertise such as UX design and product design and development.
Most of the true UX enthusiast that I’ve come to know in my years of working on web and mobile solutions are smart, talented and passionate people. So I know that with a focused approach we can truly bring change to all walks of life. UX design best practices have the ability to transform products, services, and entire business’s to provide optimized experiences.
At the end of the day to ensure better UX and overall better quality one must always be mindful to never skip a test!
About this series – UX Diary
As a UX enthusiast and a front-end engineer I have decided to try and truly bring UX best practices to the organization that I work in. UX diary is a small series of 5 articles documenting this journey with all of its lessons and bumps that I am hoping can help and inspire you, fellow UX enthusiasts to adopt and spread UX awareness in your work and organizations. Read the articles by clicking on the links below:
- UX Diary Part 1: On The Front Line
- UX Diary Part 2: A Seat At The Table
- UX Diary Part 3: Never Skip A Test ￩ You are currently reading this
- UX Diary Part 4: It’s A Jungle Out There
- UX Diary Part 5: Making Good Products Great
So stay tuned each week and please remember that I would love to hear your questions, thoughts, or suggestions. You can post them in the comments section.