Quality assurance engineers here at Digital Foundry test vast swaths of cool technology and digital products. We work with Digital Foundry consultants, long time design partners and client design teams. Over the years, we have compiled a catalog of tricks that we share with our project teams to quickly develop high quality enterprise software. Here are a few that we revisited recently:
1 – Prepare for Sprints
Finalize designs and deliver them to your development team before a sprint begins. Developers will better understand what they’re building, product owners can more easily clarify client expectations, and testers get a better idea of what to test with designs handy.
Having design assets early reduces the risk that tasks would need to be redone. An asset-less developer on a deadline will use a generic placeholder, which will need to be reworked and replaced later. Also, if a mock-up for a particular feature is missing, the corresponding user story may be implemented in a way that is inconsistent with the stakeholder’s intention.
When a feature design needs to be changed mid-sprint, it is less disruptive to add the design change to the product backlog for future prioritization and implementation.
2 – Use Versioning and Dates for Directory Names
Specify a file version and completion date in file names for directories and packages. Also, avoid using the word “Final” in file names because files are rarely final. Label by version and modification date rather than by incarnation to avert misunderstandings and rework when files are utilized in a project.
3 – Use Style Guides
Provide a style guide with standardized design elements such as font legends and color palettes. Style guides provide context and more generalized information than mock-ups. For smaller projects such as demos and prototypes, the Apple, Google, or other well-circulated design standards can be used for reference. There’s no need to reinvent placement of say, a cancel button. Style guides help set expectations for features and replace redundant communication between the product owner and development team.
4 – Provide a Message Text File
Specify the exact text to be displayed in messages, alerts, and pop-ups and save it all in one file. This will help to minimize undesirable user experiences (e.g. login errors showing incorrect help text, connection errors showing 404 message text, etc.) promote consistency and adherence to brand requirements. Project managers and product owners will have fewer questions to answer, developers will not need to invent language, and testers will have a reference to test against.
5 – Spellcheck Content
Run your content through a spellchecker and another set of eyes to catch misspellings, typos, and grammatical eccentricities. Also, make sure to do so in each language you’re supporting. This is an easy step that can help protect your brand from unwanted criticism.
A final word. Anything you can do to facilitate clear communication among designers, developers, testers, product owners, and stakeholders is a big plus. Have someone on your team available to investigate and clarify questions as they come up.
We hope you find these suggestions helpful. We’ve found by paying attention to the little things we have a smoother time delivering commercially viable software. Thank you for reading. If you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you.