How To Conduct Effective Prototype Testing — Essential Tips And Best Practices For Maximum Impact

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How to Conduct Effective Prototype Testing — Essential Tips and Best Practices for Maximum Impact

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Amazon Fire Phone, Google Glass, New Coke and Nintendo’s Virtual Boy: what do all these products have in common? They didn’t sell.

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Launching a product is hard—even for some of the biggest brands in the world.

That’s why it’s essential to turn ideas into reality through prototype testing to ensure that products solve real problems and provide a seamless user experience. Effective prototype testing can help you make informed decisions, explore opportunities, innovate, and test assumptions.

In this article, we will discuss best practices and tips so you can get the most out of this important process.

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Related: From Prototype to Production: 3 Things You Should Do

1. Be clear about what you want to test

Setting specific and measurable goals is essential to achieving practical results.

For example, instead of thinking “I want to know if the audience likes the design,” find out if your audience can easily navigate through your app. Instead of finding out if your copy engages, find out if it induces your audience to buy.

Be clear about what you want to achieve with your prototype and the metrics you will use to measure its success.

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Tip: Building user personas to understand how users might interact with your product can help you design based on user flow rather than product features. Therefore, you can create a prototype that accurately mimics the intended end product.

Bonus tip: Create only the prototypes you need. Try not to go into too much detail to build the perfect prototype. Rapid prototyping is the name of the game.

2. Reach out to the right people

While there are different types of usability tests, choosing the right audience is a prerequisite for successfully testing any prototype.

For example, if you’re testing a fitness app, you might want to reach out to people who exercise regularly. Or, if you want to launch a hotel booking app, it makes sense to test the prototype design on people who regularly travel and stay in hotels.

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Tip: Strive for a diverse set of testers—not just people using your product now, but also people who could be potential users. This can highlight issues preventing you from reaching a wider audience, especially when developing a new product or feature.

Today, many market research platforms allow you to choose from a pre-selected pool of participants (panels), which saves you time and allows you to choose from a wider audience.

3. Choose the right prototype

Selecting a suitable prototype is an essential part of conducting effective testing. It is ideal to start with low fidelity prototypes before moving on to high fidelity ones. Why?

Making adjustments in the final stages of product development is difficult and time consuming. For example, the outline of your idea is easy to change. But it will take much longer to make adjustments to a functional design prototype.

Prototyping is an iterative process; each cycle improves the accuracy of the prototype until you reach the intended result.

Tip: Choose from a variety of prototypes such as sketches, wireframes, interactive prototypes, or realistic simulations to find the one that best suits your goals and the needs of your target audience.

Related: How your prototype can make or break your business

4. Test your product in different environments

A product has a real chance of succeeding in some conditions and completely failing in others. However, the only way to find out is to test it in different conditions.

Consider whether users want to interact with your offer across multiple platforms and devices. If so, try testing your product in different environments with different audiences. This will give you a better chance of identifying settings that support and counteract your product.

Tip: Set up an environment that mimics the real life scenarios of your target users to better understand how your customers use your product on a daily basis. Conduct testing in a quiet, distraction-free environment to improve the accuracy of your feedback.

5. Create an actionable test plan

Set precise goals for each of your testing sessions. While the goal of a test procedure is to capture important data, you can improve the speed and consistency of testing by developing a workable strategy in advance.

Your test plan should describe the testing process, tasks, and questions you will ask testers. Make sure it’s flexible enough to accommodate changes while still allowing for consistent testing.

Test planning becomes much easier if you use or plan to use an online service (SaaS). market research platform. These tools come with blueprints and prototype test templates for a variety of scenarios, making planning quick and easy.

6. Collect unbiased feedback

Imaging sets up extensive testing only to find that the data received is not satisfactory. Relying on self-reported data is a serious trap to draw accurate conclusions.

Focus on the behavior of testers rather than their opinions during testing. Watch how they interact with your product and identify areas that are causing frustration or confusion. Ask them open-ended questions to get quality feedback.

Tip: Even if you are doing only quantitative research, it can be supported by various technologies such as click tracking, eye tracking (heat maps), and face coding (expression/emotion analysis). These technologies are integrated with many market research platforms available today to remove bias by validating quantitative data.

Bonus tip: Analyze test results to identify patterns and trends. Use both qualitative and quantitative data to better gauge the effectiveness of your prototype in achieving your goals. Plan to invest in a robust tool that easily provides actionable information in a single dashboard to help you make quick decisions.

Related: 5 Goals Prototyping a New Product Can Help You Achieve

Building successful products is the cornerstone of an ongoing successful business, which is why prototype testing is essential when developing products.

By following the recommendations and tips mentioned above, you will be able to proactively identify weaknesses and make the necessary changes before launching your product, increasing your product’s chances of success. Remember to focus your testing on your customers’ behaviors and goals, and use their feedback to create a product that meets their needs.

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