The progress witnessed within the field of quantum computing has been enabled by the identification and understanding of interactions between the state of the quantum bit (qubit) and the materials within its environment. Beginning with an introduction of the parameters used to differentiate various quantum computing approaches, we discuss the evolution of the key components that comprise superconducting qubits, where the methods of fabrication can play as important a role as the composition in dictating the overall performance. We describe several mechanisms that are responsible for the relaxation or decoherence of superconducting qubits and the corresponding methods that can be utilized to characterize their influence. In particular, the effects of dielectric loss and its manifestation through the interaction with two-level systems (TLS) are discussed. We elaborate on the methods that are employed to quantify dielectric loss through the modeling of energy flowing through the surrounding dielectric materials, which can include contributions due to both intrinsic TLS and extrinsic aspects, such as those generated by processing. The resulting analyses provide insight into identifying the relative participation of specific sections of qubit designs and refinements in construction that can mitigate their impact on qubit quality factors. Additional prominent mechanisms that can lead to energy relaxation within qubits are presented along with experimental techniques which assess their importance. We close by highlighting areas of future research that should be addressed to help facilitating the successful scaling of superconducting quantum computing.