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Testing Prototypes with Users

After you’ve created your first, or hundredth, prototype and you want to test it, there’s a bit of setup work you need to do. Testing with users is the process of getting someone who is as close to your ideal user as possible, and who is not you, to interact with your prototype to test a specific assumption or to find any pain points, problems, or confusion within your proposed idea. Observing a user directly interacting with your prototype will give you a wealth of information beyond “did the task get finished?” In person, you can look for microexpressions of frustration, delight, and confusion, and then ask follow-up questions to why the user felt that way. If you conduct testing remotely, you can listen for any hesitations and gain nearly as much insight into the question or assumption you’re testing. Both in-person and remote testing provide quantitative and qualitative data that lets you examine the intuitive use and emotional response to an experience.

Planning the Research

The first step for successful user testing is to create a research plan that includes exactly what assumptions you want to test, the goal of the research, a few basic questions to establish who the test subject is, and the questions you need to ask or the tasks the user needs to accomplish to test the assumptions. This document can be formal, including a list of your stakeholders and business objectives that the test will affect, or it can be more casual, acting as ...

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