What is product quality? Practical definition

I never said, "Let's make low quality products." But the world is full of them anyway. You may know a lot about how a product is of poor quality, and you can make a decision.

Such a compromise usually requires painful and difficult to navigate. How do you know when to compromise and claim product quality? How can I make this happen intentionally or by mistake? How do you make decisions and defend those decisions in the face of totally reasonable criticism for both users and leaders?

First of all, it The actual definition of "product quality".

What is quality?

Dr. Joseph Juran made a short definition of quality:

Suitability for use of the product.

Juran's definition of quality is very simple and popular. However, it does not directly convey in-depth implications of the quality required for managers who decide to choose the right behavior. (Reference 1)

What is product quality?

Product quality means integrating features that provide customer satisfaction by meeting consumer needs (desire), improving products (goods), and providing features that are free of defects or defects.

Product quality describes the degree to which the user's needs are elegantly met, including:


Did you solve the real problem in a complete and effective way for the given function? if not Target user Do I have to overcome flaws regularly or rely on support? (This means that we clearly defined our target audience.) If we add as designed, will the product remain global and consistent?


Have you included an understanding of what the target user wants to do and how best to do it? Recommended / Basic Are you clear with the following action? Have you tried to make people who are not important feel uncomfortable to support those who are not important?


Can you figure out how to use it without excessive cognitive load on the target user? Are terms, icons, and flows consistent with your expectations? Is there a clear and consistent affordance on clickable elements? Does it comply with known usability heuristics? (Available always Discoverable. It is better not to choose Photoshop without training. Expert tool. The same expectations for Apple Photos are not maintained.)


Are colors, fonts, and dimensions consistent with the design system, and are everything aligned? Are icons and images rendered correctly? Did you use animation to maintain context? Does the action provide effective feedback? Have you written a grammatical and wise copy? Is it stable?


Do our solutions feel fast and responsive? Can you get the job done with minimal cognitive load and less effort? This is partly about actual performance (latency, response time, number of steps), but it is derived from the UX details and other factors in this list.

There is a spell called COUPE.

When is product quality important?

Intuitively everyone loves the idea of ​​a high quality product, but is it worth the investment needed? In fact, some businesses are more important than others. Most important if:

In a highly competitive market

The market is in the middle of the maturity curve. What you do is well defined, somewhat commercialized, and has a lot of competition. Over time, low quality products can lead to churn if strong competitors exist. High quality products can be a meaningful differentiator.

End users are heavily involved in purchasing decisions

This is true for B2C software and some SaaS businesses, but not for traditional enterprise tools that are purchased through a central IT department.

End users live up to expectations in other markets where product quality is high.

Popular tools like Slack, Dropbox, and GitHub have significantly higher quality bars (partly because they've been pursuing a bottom-up sales model), creating an environment with lower product quality. It pops out like a sore thumb.

If these do not apply to you and you still value product quality, do not despair! Everyone insists that at least they should strive for standards of quality product quality. If you want a business case for it Bad Product quality will eventually catch up with support costs, poor customer satisfaction, and vulnerability to competitors, and the longer it is used, the harder it is to resolve. And apart from our business case, do we want to bring more bad products to the world?

How do you measure product quality?

Causality can be difficult to track, making product quality difficult or impossible to measure. For example, earlier this year, we spent months updating and modifying the look and feel of the heap. Was a real win in terms of product quality, but did you move the basic business indicators? Needless to say-many other things happened at the same time. The correct way to measure this was through long-term A / B testing, but the changes were systematic enough to effectively deploy all new features twice during that test.

Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that good instructional quality efforts can improve the business, but often it is not practical to measure those links. But you can measure the product quality itself.

Heuristic or Expert Evaluation

Hiring a designer will hire a professional who recognizes product quality. Heuristic assessment is a powerful, subjective, low-cost way of using that expertise. Thank you for the experience with the help of an established UX heuristic with a designer, sole or (better) her interdepartmental team. This may seem simple, but it is the most effective way to measure product quality in many dimensions.

Usability Test

You can tell about usability, the cognitive component of efficiency, and to some extent completeness and opinion. Useful at various stages of the design process. However, usability testing is a subtle technique possessed by all designers, and you can't just make it whether your creation is well designed.

Usage statistics

It can tell you about completeness and some usefulness over time. Given that Heap is a product analysis company, it may seem strange that this is only one point among others. Understanding user behavior is important but not overall. Not the reason, but what it offers. For example, a constant hold on a particular feature is a valuable signal for utility and usability, but it doesn't distinguish between these two features or tell whether the actual user matches the target user.

Customer satisfaction

Captures critical issues but is inaccurate Surveys organized at the right time can complement this by function.

Performance indicators (load time, latency) and QA

It tells you about stability and performance and gives a signal on efficiency and polish.

Put numbers on it

Product quality is often subjective, but it can be important to discuss it numerically and make a comparative statement.

Now let's scale it to 10 points. 10 is perfect, perfection is virtually impossible, so treat it as an asymptote. Theranos is 1, Comcast a 3, Microsoft a 4-5, 2012 Apple 8.5. (Please insert a recent question about Apple's product quality that stands out.)

Where should you be? It's up to you. The minimum level is about four. In addition, it usually results in tradeoffs between product quality, range and timeline. You can improve one of those three at the expense of others. Your organization may have axioms (explicit or implicit) about scope, timeline, and code quality. What are the principles for product quality?

In addition, the target product quality should be dependent on the launch. Modern software development methodologies value iteration, experimentation, and agility. If you emphasize too early, product quality may not be right. Specifically :

  • your Minimal product possible (MVP) exists to test the hypothesis without shipping a great product. In fact, some forms of MVP (paint door test, concierge MVP, prototype) do not exist at all in the codebase. For those who do, the bar of product quality should be as low as possible without risking the test. Of course, suppose you've hidden MVP, except for the group of test users you choose (e.g. via feature flagging platforms like Optimizely or LaunchDarkly).
  • The open beta still has experimental elements, does this feature fulfill its initial promise? This requires sufficient product quality that does not impair the overall experience (or does not interfere with the functionality of the problem), but it is perfect, and polish and / or efficiency may be slightly degraded. Please avoid becoming a beta virtually v1.

How do you improve product quality?

Therefore, we evaluated both current and target product quality. How do you hit that target?


The difficulty in linking product quality to business metrics means that the product itself must be treated utilitarianly. When it comes to product quality you always ask, “But do you think two weeks will make more money?” I wouldn't prioritize.

Invest in the winner

It's easy to get rid of bugs and product / design debts, but it's hard for successful but uncompleted features. After all, are they working?

1.1 or sunset

For new features, explicitly plan the 1.1 release to finalize the product quality from 1.0. Complete if the release is successful or promising. If not, kill it to avoid inflation.

Watch the big picture

High quality products are consistent and do not reveal organizational boundaries. When building new features, check how much time and how much time. Sometimes it means limiting yourself to existing patterns. Sometimes it's time to evolve. The design system can be very helpful here, and once implemented, it can also speed up the front end.


Carefully consider your chosen architecture to create a "happy road" to your product without optimizing flexibility. This makes things easier for some users at the expense of others, but it is impossible to build a high quality experience that is important to everyone. It does not rule out a more flexible but less prominent "escape hatch".

Frequent and early verification

To understand maturity and ease of use for a specific project, verify it as follows:

To understand maturity and ease of use for a specific project, verify it as follows:

Regular basic research

(Open end user interviews or field studies) to discover basic user needs, expectations and behaviors. It can be time consuming, but it also scales well. You can learn a lot through a one-hour, well-formed telephone interview with a client.

Usability Test

At the core level, as solutions evolve, they provide data on completeness and usability. Ambiguity: Do not create alpha when you have enough models or when you can prototype. However, keep in mind that the less product participants' product imaginations, the more data they will get.

Leaning on closed alpha and beta

You can save time polishing the wrong for the final verification.

Most importantly, take time to do this! Increasing product quality slows down in terms of completed projects per unit of time. Remember the tradeoffs between quality, range and timeline. You should always balance, but to increase product quality, the balance must change. It only works if you have purchased everyone. And it's worth it, if you often miss the initial hypothesis, you can actually change your course earlier to save time.

What's your take?

The concept of product quality is as old as the concept of a product, but I have not seen any attempt to identify an explicit technique for functionalizing (i.e. beyond "good design") or improving the product. So this framework is new and hardly tested. I want to hear your thoughts: does it make sense to you? How did your team approach product quality? What works and what doesn't

Written by Dave Feldman You can also use it on the heap blog.



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