User Testing/ Validation

The goal of User Testing/ Validation is to understand how users experience certain products or services. The usability of products and services can be validated at any stage in the design process. This method can be particularly useful to evaluate the usability of concepts, prototypes, physical or software products and service offerings of an organization.

The primary questions that User Testing answers are whether the user encounters any issues when interacting with an unfinished or finished product or service; what is the utility the user sees in the product or service; is the user journey smooth or full of disruptions, does the product or service fill any need-gap for the users, etc.

User Testing is a great way of getting user feedback firsthand and allows the researcher to take quick action to improve.

User Testing can be split based on the stage of the project when it is conducted – Discovery Stage testing, User Research Stage testing, and Strategy & design Stage testing.

Discovery StageTo determine where effort should be focused.
  • Allows testing a new idea or concept
  • Helps compare with competitive products and services in the market
Time spent could be on a lot of pointless and regular ideas which shouldn’t be pursued
Concept stageUnconventional user researchUser Testing at this stage can provide a quick and easy way to place an existing product in front of a wide range of possible user types 
Strategy & Design StageTo test prototypes and complex flows
  • Help determine the strategic direction
  • Actual User Validation happens at this stage
Incorporating solutions or design changes at this stage could be time-consuming and would require an overhaul of existing design


Advantages of User Testing/ Validation

01 Feedback

Getting feedback helps designers validate their efforts on a project.

02 Next Steps

Data collected can guide the next steps to be taken to improve the product or service.

03 Benchmark against existing products

Data collected can help to evaluate the product features or the service being offered against similar and competitive offerings in the market.

04 Identify missed issues

Issues that may have been missed during the other stages of the project can be captured through user testing.

05 Online Tools

Through online tools, a large sample can be considered for User Testing. The data gathered can also be analyzed quickly and with relative ease.


Disadvantages of User Testing/ Validation

01 User time commitment

If the users do not give sufficient time for feedback or to test, then the system or product can be off from what the user requirement is.

02 Scope of the project

If the scope of the project is large, then user testing may result in a large amount of diverse data which may be difficult to collate and analyze.

Think Design recommendation

Let’s say this with conviction: No design project is complete without user validation. Without employing this in at least one of your steps, you would be running a very high risk of poor adoption or complete rejection. However, when to employ this method and how is a more important question here. We will point to three broad areas here:

  • Validation before design: Do this if you want users to respond to your ideas, concepts or your assumption of gaps.
  • Validation during design: Do this if you want to test your design before investing in building your design… or you want one of the alternatives chosen by user validation.
  • Validation post design: Do this if you want to find users’ response to finished design, and those responses are intended to guide your refinements or next build.
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