Running Product Design Tests: Make Data Meet Empathy

Running Product Design Tests: Make Data Meet Empathy

Zuzanna Sobczyk
Zuzanna Sobczyk11 minJanuary 23, 2023

You’ve launched your website or product, got your first wave of users, and now it’s time to make sure they come back. To keep them coming back you need to run product design thinking that are tailored to the needs of your customers.

Or, you just pressed “start” on a new project, and you’re in the brainstorming phase, or you have zero interest from your potential customer. You need to make sure that whatever product design you come up with is actually going to be useful to your customers.

In this article, we’ll talk about how you can use user data to inform your product design decisions, and create a better product experience for your users.

What are product design tests

Product design tests are an essential part of any product development cycle. They aim to answer the question “does this product design solve the users’ problems in an effective and efficient way?” A product design test can involve creating prototypes, running experiments, collecting data from user feedback and behavior, and analyzing results.

Benefits of running product design testing

Improved User Experience

Product design testing provide an opportunity for organizations to measure and evaluate the user experience, allowing them to identify potential issues and make improvements that will enhance the customer journey.

With testing product designs, businesses get the chance to collect invaluable insights from their users which they can use to make meaningful improvements, leading to an improved overall user experience. After all, great products aren’t built overnight - conducting product design testing provides an important foundation in making sure the right results are achieved.

Increased Efficiency

Conducting a product design test can help organizations save time and resources, as they can quickly identify problems before they become larger issues and address them accordingly.

Design testing is like a dry-run of a product launch: it helps identify user experience issues before they become problems. This streamlined approach to creating and engineering products leads to more efficient development cycles which translates into faster releases and increased customer satisfaction.

In other words, no matter what your business is developing, design testing almost guarantees an improved user experience.

So take the leap!

Investing in product design testing saves you invaluable time, energy, and money. No one is ever sorry for taking that extra step towards efficiency. And even if it is to demonstrate a bigger problem you need to solve, at least you know that product design testing is the way to go.

It’s like having a safety net when trying something new: it gives you peace of mind and allows your team to be more creative, confident, and agile. So why wait?

Improved Quality

Running product design testing can be incredibly beneficial for businesses looking to take their products to the next level. Not only does it allow them the opportunity to test their current designs on a larger audience, but it also gives them an insight into the wants and needs of their customers – essentially running focus groups without having to pay for them.

With this data, businesses can make improvements in the quality of their product designs based on customer feedback.

Greater Cost Savings

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of confidence that comes when you know you’ve done your due diligence and tested a product before launch. Product design test can save a lot of time in the long run, as well as money and frustration.

You don’t want to introduce an error-ridden project to the world and then have to backtrack and fix everything; by running tests, you can identify any issues early on, improving efficiency by ensuring the project is perfect when it sees the light of day. The bonus? Your peers will envy your experience with running rigorous test design.

To put it simply: early identification of problems translates into cost savings in the long run due to avoiding expensive repairs or replacements down the line.

Enhanced Collaboration

Running product design testing can unlock a multitude of benefits for businesses, not least of which is improved collaboration. When teams go through the process of finding user needs and testing out various designs, they can help craft something creative that appeals to their target market.

Because teams are working together towards a common goal, there is a greater sense of intention and dedication towards the project at hand – enabling all stakeholders to get on board. This collective energy ultimately results in better cohesion between team members and thus more successful projects.

Product design testing can encourage collaboration between different departments within an organization, such as alignment with the website design and other digital marketing aspects, allowing for a more streamlined workflow that is optimized for desired results faster and more efficiently than without testing processes in place.

Best practices of product design testing

#1 Map the entire design testing process

Design testing is a crucial part of the product design process, but it can be tricky to figure out the best practices for getting the most out of it. After all, time and resources are valuable, so why waste either?

To that end, it’s important to map out a plan – what kind of tests you want to implement at each stage in the design process.

Step one should be understanding your designs immediate environment - that means familiarizing yourself with market trends and making sure you speak to user needs. Once you know where you’re going, then draw up a comprehensive test plan that outlines goals, schedule timetables and budget considerations.

You might also include:

#2 Diversify sources of user feedback

Product design tools are a valuable tool for engineers and designers alike. The best way to ensure the success of such tests is to rely on multiple sources of user feedback. Instead of relying solely on surveys, interviews, or focus groups, it pays to diversify.

If a company takes advantage of all these methods and more – from forum discussions to analytics tracking and custom online forms for surveys– they can gain deeper insights into what their users like and don’t like about their product.

Getting feedback from multiple sources isn’t just productive; it is downright wise! Various segments of your target audience could have various first impressions, bad experience examples, and position to give you real (not always positive) feedback. Ask users across various platforms about their experience, and watch the answers pour in. You never know when you get the best idea.

#3 Leverage usability testing

Usability testing is a classic best practice in product design and should always be at the top of your list. It’s the key to uncovering those hidden usability issues nobody else would think to look for.

With usability testing, you can quickly identify which parts of the product are intuitive and correct, which ones require tweaking, what is time consuming for users, where positive experience arises, and even better - where totally new opportunities lie!

It’s a powerful form to get real feedback from real users and make sure your design is truly going to deliver the experience it was created for. Ask users to determine and discover your website, and you will get quite a task list to perform on.

For example, within your tools or website, you can use session recordings to discover how users navigate through the product and what their actual experience is like.

#4 Create a knowledge base with a backlog

Knowledge base/backlog ensures that all product design considerations are taken into account and facilitates an efficient timeline when it comes to releasing – or improving – products.

A well-conceived backlog also becomes a powerful guide for future testing efforts and enables teams to concentrate on the right things at the right time. The product design should be tested thoroughly if it is going to succeed in the marketplace, and there really is no substitute for having a backlog of best practices that can bring success within reach.

Each task, method, article, course, prototype, site, has to be tested before it is released. It’s important to remember that a backlog of knowledge should be created as soon as possible so that everything is tested thoroughly and efficiently.

#5 Plan information architecture

Planning an effective information architecture for product tests can make all the difference between running a successful test and receiving sparse, unreliable feedback. It involves structuring and organizing the most relevant data points to accurately measure customer experience, performance and usability.

Poorly designed IA can lead to incorrect responses, making it difficult to identify user behavior problems which need to be addressed. Investing some time upfront in designing meaningful IA will ensure that product testing is done right and any product enhancements are based on reliable insights.

#6 Check specific features

When it comes to product design testing, you want to make sure that the features that are being tested are the most important ones. To ensure this, it’s worthwhile to do some research before starting the test and figure out exactly which elements of a product should be checked.

This means researching customer feedback, competition and industry standards. Thanks to that method, you’ll know if you’re checking all the right boxes when evaluating your product during testing so that nothing slips through the cracks and can be tweaked as necessary for optimal functionality and performance.

For example, first impressions of your end users can impact the overall use of a product. It is important to test the design elements that are most likely to encourage users to stay engaged and keep using the product, such as colors, sign up methods, development, layout, content hierarchy and more.

These considerations can help ensure that the design is in line with customer expectations and provide valuable insights on how well it performs when put into the test. And even though it might make little sense to test participants and real users as they use the product for only a second, this is an important, and correct, part of the process.

#7 Run different versions for a preference test

When looking to get the best from your product design testing, consider running different versions for a preference test. Through doing this, you can quickly identify which of your designs resonates with users the most by reading their preferences.

For example, when you have many users that prefer Version A over Version B, then you know which design to focus on. This is a simple way for product designers to understand how well their designs are performing and give them the user data they need to make improvements accordingly.

This cost-effective approach can give you considerable insight into what kind of designs will strike a chord with your customers – saving you time, energy and money in the long run.

#8 Introduce first click test and five second test options

It’s easy to get lost in the weeds. To make sure your interface remains intuitive and meets customer needs, introducing two tests can be particularly helpful: the first click test and the five second test:

  • The first click tests can ensure that customers can understand how to move forward with the product instantly upon their opening the app or website; it’s a priceless form to ensure you don’t lose those initial few seconds that can potentially lead to someone backing out of your product.
  • On the other hand, five second click test are just as important – they ensure user interfaces are designed to be comprehended by anyone in a quick glance, from both first-time users and loyal customers.

Ultimately, taking advantage of both testing methods allows for a streamlined and successful product design experience each time.

#9 DON’T use leading questions

A successful product design test requires more than just common sense. One of the best practices? Stay away from leading questions.

Leading questions can be sneaky - they may not seem like they’re influencing responses but they are.

They might seem like a good idea at first, but they can influence people to give you the answers you want to hear rather than the honest truth.

Instead, approach testing with an open mind and use neutral questions that don’t suggest any desired outcomes, for example, “What do you like about X feature?” or “How is it different from Y feature?” This way, you’ll get genuine feedback that can help improve your products and make them more useful to customers.

#10 Get your whole team on board

Of course, product design testing isn’t just about the users - it’s also about involving everyone in your team. The more stakeholders that are brought into the fold, the better informed design decisions you’ll be able to make when revising and improving your solution.

Well-thought-out analysis and testing should always be part of the product design process. Make sure everyone on your team understands the value of testing and why it’s essential for building better, more effective products.

Host teambuilding events to make sure each team member knows their role in the testing process and how they can contribute. There are data tools, methods, prototype ideas, and more that can benefit from collaboration, so get your team in on the action!

#11 Set a time limit on design testing

To manage user expectations in product design thinking, it’s important to set a time limit on testing. This can help you track progress and keep your team focused on making improvements in a timely manner.

A good start is to plan out how long each stage of the product design cycle should take, then break that down into manageable chunks for each step. That way, everyone can work on their own piece of the puzzle, and it will be easier to track progress against the timeline.

Set realistic timelines and have a method for tracking results so that you can adjust your strategy as needed. This will lead to more successful designs in less time.

#12 Never consider your product as a final product

Many designers make this one, simple mistake – thinking their product is finished once it’s released. This couldn’t be further from the truth!

Product design is a continuous cycle of improvement, so you should never consider your product as a final product. A successful product design process requires constant review and testing of prototypes in order to make sure that the right feedback gets integrated into the end solution.

Even after a product is released, you should still be performing design testing to identify areas of improvement. Thanks to that analysis, our team can make sure that the product remains as effective and optimized as possible over time.

Over to you

Once you have a process in place, you can start running product tests with confidence. With user feedback and data-driven insights driving your decisions, you will be able to create a better user experience for your customers. Remember that it’s not just about testing the product, it’s also about understanding the users’ needs and how your product can meet them.

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