6 steps to test your prototype
Prototype testing needn’t be expensive or complicated. You can make it easier by following a structured, step-by-step process.
1. Be specific on what you’re testing
Focus on the goal of what you're trying to validate before you begin, as this will influence what type of prototype you need to create and how you’ll test it.
So, for example, instead of saying ‘I want to test my travel app’, say ‘I want to see how easy it is for new users to book a hotel on my travel app’.
2. Work out what type of prototype you need
The stage you’re at in the design process will help you decide on the sort of prototype you’re ready for and its ‘fidelity’ (or level of detail and realism). At the earliest stages, a low-fidelity prototype comprised of a paper model or basic wireframe may suffice, while a feasibility prototype tests specific features of components.
At the final stage in the design process, a high-fidelity complete mock-up will help to validate your final iteration and spot last-minute issues right before launch.
3. Find the right participants
You should recruit participants who represent your target audience – but include individuals who haven’t interacted with your brand before, as well as those who have.
This is because completely green users are more likely to focus on high-level problems that could affect purchasing decisions, while those who are more familiar with you could provide more nuanced and detailed insights.
4. Decide on testing methods
Will you be there to moderate while participants test your products or not? Will you invite participants to come to you or send your prototypes to them? These are decisions that need to be made after weighing up the pros and cons of each option.
5. Ask the right questions
To avoid polite, one-dimensional responses, ask open-ended questions about why participants like or dislike particular aspects of your product. A great tip is to also ask them what one thing they would change, as this might allow for the contribution of more focused ideas.
Offering fictional scenarios is another good way of getting participants to use a product as they would in the real world to see if it helps them achieve their goals.
6. Analyze the results
It’s vital to act on feedback, so make executive summaries after test sessions and set up email discussion groups and workshops for design team members to review what was learned. This way, you should be able to see what worked and what didn’t, mull over new questions, and consider the overall response.
If you follow these steps, test your hypotheses, and find your product achieves its goals, it’s more likely to be a success in the real world.
What’s more, by making prototype testing a habitual part of the design process, you can use the feedback of potential buyers to create better products and innovate more creatively – and that will really level up your customer experience game and help you stand out from the competition.
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