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The question of which UI/UX issues should be considered as showstoppers when releasing a product to the market has always been of interest to me. I am curious to get some thoughts as to how would you classify UI/UX issues as minor, important, critical, and showstoppers when considering a product release.

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According to Jakob Nielsen:

The severity of a usability problem is a combination of three factors:

  • The frequency with which the problem occurs: Is it common or rare?
  • The impact of the problem if it occurs: Will it be easy or difficult for the users to overcome?
  • The persistence of the problem: Is it a one-time problem that users can overcome once they know about it or will users repeatedly be bothered by the problem?

(Source)

Another view by Paul J. Sherman takes into account business objectives when rating the severity of UX issues:

  • critical severity—An issue of critical severity would definitely result in users’ being unable to complete their intended task, as well as an immediate, noticeable, and significant negative impact on an organization’s brand equity, revenue, or profitability.

  • high severity—A high-severity usability issue is one that would likely result in users’ not being able to complete their intended task and, from a business perspective, negatively affect an organization’s brand, revenue, or profitability.

  • medium severity—A medium-severity usability issue would be likely to significantly impede or frustrate users, but probably would not prevent users from eventually accomplishing a task. It might also negatively affect an organization’s brand, revenue, or profitability.

  • low severity—A low-severity usability issue would likely present some type of momentary or transient difficulty or result in confusion for users, but would not prevent users from accomplishing their task. It would have no discernible effect on an organization’s brand, revenue, or profitability.

(Source)

Also, this post by Jeff Sauro nicely summarizes some of the major scales for measuring the severity of usability issues in one table.

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I think there are 2 types of products. The first one is a product that users really need but does not yet exist. In that case, users may complain about your design but you'll have time to improve it latter. Having said that, I still thing the it's important enough for the release.

The second type is a product that already exist. In that case UI/UX is critical because if a user feels uncomfortable with the UI he won't use your product, he will look for another product with a better UI.

Let's say that if your product is unique enough you might be able to release it with a "good" initial UI but if you think you'll have to works hard to get users choose your product over another an excellent UI will make your work much easier.

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I am mostly looking for criteria for choosing which UI/UX bugs should block release or not. What type of issues are minor, etc. Thanks though! –  TommyG Dec 21 '13 at 22:00
    
I think the question "which UI/UX bugs should block release" is too generic. If you can't use a feature because of a UI/UX bug then it's critical. –  Itay Gal Dec 21 '13 at 22:12
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