User experience or “UX” has become one of those terms that allow people who are not directly involved in creating the user’s experience a voice in its meaning and, perhaps, its importance. But, what does it mean and why is it important?
“The overall experience of a person using a product such as a website or computer application, especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use.”
Okay, that’s easy enough, but why is this important? We can all wrap our heads around wanting to have a good user experience with the products we use as well as what we develop, but how do we qualify this? How do we measure what is a good user experience, and once we do come up with a metric, how can we repeat the desired result throughout our application?
We sit down with Carlo Wisse, who heads up our Quality Assurance (QA) team here at atmail, to discuss some of these details.
One of the things that stuck with me after my conversation with Carlo was how we could leverage automation and the tools we already have to help us find out what experience we want to create for our users. We can programmatically remove the quantitative unknowns from the equation to find that consistency in the user experience. This allows us to focus on the qualitative side – maybe the more complicated part of creating something our users want to continue to use.
We invite you to read the transcript of the interview with Carlo below.
Hello, I’m Carlo Wisse. At atmail, I am a UX Engineer currently. Throughout my history at atmail I have mostly been focussed in QA.
To be in a position to push newer QA technologies forward is amazing. I absolutely love it. I have always been a big fan of experimenting with new technologies and now I get to work on the technology that the biggest players in the world are working with.
We are working towards larger, more high scale product, and the technologies needed for this to actually work are fascinating. Highly available, highly scalable; all of these sort of buzzwords are great, but actually implementing them are fascinating because of the technology stacks that we get to use: AWS; GCP.
And with all this new technology, with all these new platforms that atmail get to run on, we get to play with more toys essentially. Our monitoring can improve because we can integrate AWS directly into our stack, rather than having monitoring somewhere to the left, and a platform somewhere to the right.
Automation and UX/UI
From a QA perspective, today I got to have a very interesting discussion with the entirety of our engineering team. And one thing that I have been passionate about for now four years at atmail is bringing automation on every level into our product stack.
But, the biggest one for me is user interface and user experience. For me, user experience is very big. In any software stack, in any bit of software that I use, if my experience is not nice, I’m not going to use it. And I find that manually trying to find all of the caveats in the user interface, is time consuming and unnecessary.
So, the technology that I am trying to bring in, and now we are driving as an engineering team to bring in, is a fully automated, front end testing framework, and it’s something I am heading. And it is allowing us to do a lot more than just automatically clicking buttons and seeing if that button has done the thing. It allows us to see how long it takes to do something. It allows us to see if a colour changes… how long it takes to react when you hover over a button. It is all these small things that make a product nice to use.
Psychology and UX/UI
For me, I find there is a lot of psychology in user experience, and user interface, and user design. If you’re not happy using it, you are going to use it less. It doesn’t just come down to the speed of things, it’s how something looks, how much space it is off to the left… all these small things that people don’t realise how they are reacting to it – even the colour.
UI is UI, but UX is a different ball game altogether when it comes to it. And automation allows us to not just test our UI; it allows us to test our user experience.
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