validate and test your product with users

We create the best possible product experience with users.

If you’re somebody interested in improving your product or service through customer feedback it's easy to find yourself overwhelmed by the amount of advice out there, not knowing how to validate and test your product with users. When it comes to user testing (and how you can do it right), we draw on many different methods, tips and tricks. So read on for a guide on validating and testing your product with users.

So, what exactly are we testing?

This is an important question to ask, for the answer could be the concept, comprehension or any one of the user flows within the experience.

Depending on what it is exactly we’re testing determines which method/s will work best: intercepts for understanding a concept quickly with immediate value; user flows if seeing meaning from that outcome matters more than anything else.

Before testing begins, you need to ask what part of the product should I test with users?

Let's start by looking at the different aspects of a product that we evaluate, before we go through the testing approaches.

1. The concept

2. Comprehension

3. User flow

4. Microcopy

5. Usability

6. Micro interactions

1. The concept

Arguably the most important thing to be tested and validated first. If your idea isn't working, you need to pivot.

A common mistake that many people make is to assume their initial idea will work. It can be difficult for businesses and entrepreneurs to let go of the concept they have in mind, but it's necessary moving forward - if your original idea isn't working, you must pivot or change direction. Let the research guide you. A pivot needn’t be a huge change in the idea, it can, but it can also just be a slight shift in direction.

2. Comprehension

Once your idea is resonating with users, you need to know if the intended steps in the process are fully understood.

In order to test comprehension, using wireframes is a great way to gauge an early response to your product. Wireframing allows you to assess if each person is understanding the idea at every step along their journey from discovery through purchase and beyond.

3. User flow

Users love the idea and they’re getting what your product can do for them. Now you need to stitch it all together in a cohesive experience.

This is the experience between your product and its users. Users like the idea and what it can do for them, so now it's time to bring all their expectations together into one great flow of interactions.

4. Microcopy

Users need to know exactly where they are at all times and what will happen next when they press a button.

This is often called UX writing, and serves two purposes at Emdash. The first purpose is functional, as stated above. But a second role for microcopy is important to us: testing your company's tone of voice with your target audience in their own language. Blending product design and marketing comms together early in the process can help you test MVPs very quickly.

5. Usability

A huge part of designing a great product is making sure your user interface (UI) functions flawlessly; that it's simple to understand and use.

The process of usabilty tests never stops - you always need to do some testing throughout the development cycle no matter how good things might look on paper. Testing, testing, testing makes perfect.

6. Micro-Interactions

These are the final steps of fine tuning a product. They are the interactions between elements.

You've likely either released your beta or are about ready to release an official version for public use when you reach this stage. This is where all the tiny details come together and what makes your product ZING! At Emdash we don't get there unless our users can derive meaning from our work - we spend more valuable time upfront getting the concept, comprehension, flow, and usability right before adding the embellishments.

It is not uncommon to have insights from concept testing send us back to the drawing board. By putting users at the center of our designs, we can gain unexpected details that help shape them into better products. Empathy allows us to uncover hidden treasures in ways you may not have thought about before.

What are some customer experience testing methods?

A possible sequence of events could be an ideation session during the kickoff workshop with stakeholders then testing with remote interviews to ensure 1. the concept is solid and 2. users can follow the initial wireframes.

Or if the design has progressed enough for development, research continues through other methods such as A/B Testing or multivariate testing to assure quality of performance before release.

Different methods of user testing

While there are many methods for user testing, here are 6 ways of how we test and validate great products at Emdash.

1. Design review

2. Intercept testing

3. Remote VC

4. Face-to-face interviews

5. On-site observation

6. On-site interviews

1. Design review

For us this really means collaborative design; it’s how we work on a day-to-day basis.

It typically involves showing your work to your peers to get quick, on-the-spot feedback. It has great value when working with engineers, to ensure feasilibility with features suggested by the design. Helpful for making sure the thinking is in line with the team and stakeholders as well, but in the long run inherently flawed through bias and subjectivity of everyone but the people that count — i.e the users!

2. Intercept testing

The tester directly approaches members of the public and asks them if they'll give some of their time for immediate feedback.

This usually requires looking at screens, reading text, and seeing if they understand what is presented to them; i.e., whether or not a concept, product or flow holds value for its users. The focus can be really micro, such as seeing if a particular value proposition is clearly understood, or macro, such as checking if an onboarding process is too long.

3. Remote VC

Remote research is a fantastic way of increasing the number of participants, which can lead to more inclusive design.

With everybody adapting to new methods of interaction and a huge shift in working-from-home policies, remote video conferencing has become the norm. We can still pick up on important cues in user's behaviours and it can save time on logistics. With participants in the comfort of their home it means they are already in a comfortable and familiar environment.

4. Face-to-face interviews

As an interviewer, there is an art to keeping this session unfocused so users can open up about what they want or need from the product.

Before conducting a user interview, make sure you have specific questions and tasks in mind. But but expect, nay, aim to keep this as loose as you can to allow users to explore and open up to you. These unscripted conversations often yield unexpected insights that lead to empathy for your target audience and better products overall.

5. On-site observation

This allows you to get a proper understanding of user behaviour in their natural environment.

Users may often perform actions they might not even realise they do, or deem unworthy of mention, and yet yield surprising and powerful insights, all while staying out of sight and mind. Empower yourself with the power of voyeur!

6. On-site interviews

These are the final steps of fine tuning a product. They are the interactions between elements.

When interviewing someone while they are doing the task in question, we can actually observe them and see if your concept of solving a problem fits into their lives. Seemingly minor pain points they may experience, which are simply shrugged off as par for the course, can have major repercussions when designing a solution. It’s also an opportunity to really see if a concept can fit into their lives; if it does actually solve a problem they are experiencing.