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QA (quality assurance) & UX (user experience) - Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox

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Nielsen Norman Group
Evidence-Based User Experience Research, Training,
and Consulting








Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox: February 17, 2013

Accessibility (6)


Advertising (9)
Agile (3)
Applications (31)Audience Types (22)
B2B Websites (4)
Content Strategy (22)
Corporate Websites (6)
Credibility & Persuasion
Design Mistakes (16)
E-commerce (17)
Email (13)

Summary: Quality assurance impacts the user experience: when
things don’t work, users question their understanding and develop
superstitions and inefficient workarounds.
Quality assurance (QA) and user experience (UX) have a two-wayrelationship:
• Most obvious, usability is a quality measure for design. To ensure usability, a
good UX thus requires QA thinking.
• Beyond the user interface itself, many other quality issues also impact the
total UX .

Eyetracking (14)
Heuristic Evaluation (7)
Human Computer
Interaction (35)
Information Architecture

Usability as QA
By definition, usability involves measurablequality attributes such as ease of
learning, efficiency of use, and user satisfaction.


My 30 years’ experience in usability has repeatedly shown me the same lesson: QA

Interaction Design (3)

beats QC (quality control) many times over as the approach to design quality. It’s

Internet and Society

much better to bake-in usability from the very start—before you’ve even begun to(11)

design anything—than it is to wait until there’s a near-final design and then subject it to

Intranets (31)

“validation” in user testing.

Management (21)
Mobile & Tablet (41)

Early focus on usability also vastly boosts ROI; it’s 100 times cheaper to fix a design

Navigation (32)

flaw on the drawing board than after product launch.

New to User Experience

(Rememberthe First Law of Usability: Your design will be tested by users — your only

Non-Profit Websites (3)

choice is whether to run the test yourself before launch so that you can fix the

Predictions &

inevitable problems while it’s cheap instead of playing expensive catch-up later.)

Milestones (35)
Prototyping (4)
Research Methods (37)
Search (9)
Social UX (8)
Standards (12)

Thisis exactly the same conclusion found in other quality disciplines : whether for
manufacturing or airline service or hospital cleanliness, the best results are achieved
by proactive QA that considers quality as part of the basic process. After-the-fact QC
measurements are surely better than nothing, because they’ll concentrate the mind for
next time. But they won’t produce the best quality.


QA (quality assurance) & UX (user experience) - Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox

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Strategy (29)

One more way in which UX QA resembles other quality disciplines? Quality design

Technology (46)

doesn’t come from wishing for it. It comes from scheduling quality activities in the

Transitioning From


Another Specialty (4)
Trip Reports (19)

How QA Impacts UX

User Behavior (23)

Okay, we want quality design. To get there, we have to address the many quality

User Testing (45)

issues beyond the user interface that can undermine the total UX.

Visual Design (12)
Web Usability (51)

I’ve discussed response times many times already. It’s pretty obvious that snappyWriting for the Web (42)

code isn’t just a matter of programmer pride. System speed impacts all usability areas:
• For sure, a sluggish system is annoying and immediately cuts into satisfaction.
In every user test I’ve run since 1994, users have complained about slow
websites and praised fast ones.
• Efficiency of use is also clearly impacted by system speed: if each action is
slower, then...
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