Owning Quality Part 3: Marketing and User Experience

This is part 3 in a series of posts that examines how each role at a company owns the quality of product.  Part one looked at sales and development while part 2 examined the roles of consulting and support in shipping a quality product.  This part will examine how User Experience and Marketing own quality. 

User Experience

On the use experience team you are going to control the feel of the product.  Will the user achieve their goals seamlessly or will they be frustrated and start looking for more problems? So what can you do?

  • Fail fast.  It’s way faster for you to test UI on paper with users than it is for any developer to code it up.  And if the experience on paper doesn’t work you don’t have to rewrite code… which leads to quality problems.  Just refine it offline until you have a winner. Only winning designs should move onto development.  Trust me… you’ll still have to iterate once it’s been implemented anyway… but you can minimize this up front.
  • K.I.S.S.  Unless you work for Microsoft your team does not have the resources for complex features with lots of options.  I love brainstorming new, exciting UI, but most of the time it’s not worth breaking conventions for unless you have a lot of time for testing. Stick with what’s worked on Google, Amazon, & Facebook for the last few years. 
  • Performance is quality and while animations are fun they CAN NOT get in the way of the user. They are there to reinforce the user action and the user shouldn’t ever be waiting for one to finish.
  • Keep those blinders on and stay focused on the feature/flow you are working on.  I’ve seen UX people and designers get sidetracked all the time by looking into surrounding UI, features, and issues. Take a note, save it for later, and move on.

Marketing

Like the sales team you also own the first touch so your role is also critical in the users perception of quality.

  • Pull the right customers in.  If the message you are sending about the product isn’t pulling in the customers your company/product is optimizing for then those people are going to be frustrated users if they make it through the sales pipeline.
  • Show people the product.  Maybe it’s because I’m visual, but there is nothing worse than a company site that doesn’t have the product described in pictures at least.  Ideally there are also quick videos that explain how you are going to solve my problem.  If I can’t see the product and it’s hidden behind stock photos of happy customers then I assume you are somehow ashamed of the actual product… and I should be ashamed to run it as a customer… so I’ll look for more issues.
  • Make your message a WHY.  What’s the cause or belief that you want everyone to be able to convey in their work?  It will give people focus on what is really important since not everything is equal.  Telligent, for example, lives and breaths social customer communities.
  • Keep people on message – At a small company you probably own both internal and external communication.  It’s critical that everyone is on the same page about the solutions the product aims to provide since everyone will touch customers. 
  • Test your messages and your WHY. Test them internally and test them with customers before you finalize them.

Part 4 will look at the role of PM’s & Leadership.


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