Product Design Testing Process and Methods For Delivering Better Products
What’s the product design testing process? Why is it important in product management?
These are just a couple of questions we answer in this blog. More importantly, we look at the design testing process and various testing methods with their pros and cons.
Are you ready to dive in? Let’s do it!
- Product design testing is the final stage of the design process. It ensures that the proposed solution satisfied user needs.
- Product design focuses on idea validation and improvements to the product, while product testing is to ensure that the product is technically sound and works as intended.
- The key benefits of product design testing include a better understanding of user needs and how to satisfy them. It also helps teams find issues before they get embedded in the products and saves wasting resources on solutions that would fail.
- There are four main stages of the product design testing process.
- First, you need to identify problems to solve and formulate research questions and hypotheses.
- Next, you choose the right testing protocol and methods.
- After that, you need to recruit the right participants for your tests.
- Once the testing is over, make sure to use the insights to inform the further development of the solutions.
- There isn’t one best testing method for each use case. Your choice will depend on your goals and the stage in the product management process. Each method has its pros and cons, so it’s best to use a combination of them.
- Concept testing takes place early on when you want to validate your ideas before you start building them.
- Beta testing helps you test your features or products with real users and in the real world before launching them to the wider user population.
- Usability testing is great for optimizing UX and making the navigation around the product more intuitive.
- Qualitative user feedback surveys help you discover the ‘why?’ behind the user behavior data.
- A/B testing enables teams to choose the best feature out of a narrow selection of options.
- Want to see how Userpilot helps teams with product testing? Book the demo!
What is product design testing?
Product design testing is a part of the design thinking process which helps teams develop solutions to user problems.
Once they identify user JTBDs and define the problems that they are facing, the team comes up with ideas on how to solve them and builds prototypes of the solutions.
That’s when product design testing takes place. It’s necessary to evaluate how successful the solution is and to identify ways for improvement.
Although the testing phase comes at the end of the design process, it’s an iterative process that never stops. You validate the idea, create a higher-fidelity prototype, validate again, the development team creates the feature, and you test how it performs… You get the drift.
Product design testing vs product testing
Product design testing and product testing sound misleadingly similar. However, they take place at different stages of the product management process and play different roles.
In short, the purpose of product design testing is to validate ideas and test them with real users to build better products.
Product testing, on the other hand, is a product development concept and refers to software testing.
The different types of product testing include environment testing, regression testing, and automated testing. Basically, their objective is to check if the software works the way it should.
Why is the product design testing process important?
Product design testing requires a lot of effort and energy, so why bother?
Well, no matter how many hours you’ve spent talking to customers, ideating, and building prototypes, you won’t know how successful your solution is until you actually see how customers use it.
The benefits of product design testing include:
- develop a better understanding of user needs and their JTBDs
- identify new ways to address customer needs, problems, and desires
- uncover obstacles and barriers
- save resources by validating your assumptions and ideas early on
- keep a pulse on the constantly changing customer needs
- ensure alignment across the organization
- support product decisions in front of the stakeholders
- enhance your product UX, drive conversions and boost customer satisfaction and loyalty
Product design testing stages
How do we go about product design testing? The process consists of 4 key stages:
- defining objectives
- choosing the right testing protocols
- recruiting the testers
- acting on the test insights
Define what you are testing
Product teams carry out design tests for two main reasons. They either want to find solutions to known problems or uncover new issues.
Testing solutions to known problems
If you have a clear problem you want to solve, that’s half of the job done. All you need to do is develop hypotheses for testing.
Let’s imagine your customers churn before reaching the activation point.
The hypothesis could be ‘if we add an onboarding checklist to the welcome screen, it will help users experience product value.’
This is what you’re going to test down the line.
User testing to identify problems
You can either collect user feedback via surveys or better yet through user interviews. The latter gives you more flexibility and allows you to adapt your questions as the interview progresses.
This doesn’t mean you can just call up a customer and freestyle your way through the interview. To achieve their objectives, interviews need to be well-prepared.
Again, once you carry out the interviews or collect feedback, you formulate hypotheses to test just like described above.
Focus on the right testing process
When you have your research questions and hypotheses ready, it’s time to choose the right testing process for the job.
For example, A/B testing will be suitable to test the impact of in-app UI pattern design changes on conversions. Usability testing and session replays, on the other hand, are great when you’re trying to uncover issues with your product UI.
”Recruit” the right testers (your test target audience)
Inviting the right users to take part in the testing is essential for its validity.
First, make sure you engage real users and not product team members. Why? Because they are biased and not a representative sample of the wider user base.
For example, if you’re testing improvements to existing features, engage their power users. If you’re validating a new feature idea, bring on board users who will find it relevant.
How can you recruit testing session participants?
Turn test insights into actions
Kind of obvious but make sure to close the loop and act on the insights you gather.
Otherwise, what’s the point of testing in the first place?
Apart from wasting all the effort that goes into setting up and administering the tests, failing to act on feedback also sends a wrong message to the users. Basically, it tells them that you don’t really care.
Product design testing methods
For your product testing to give actionable insights, you need to choose the right testing process and techniques.
Let’s look at a few popular choices that SaaS product managers can leverage.
Concept testing method
Concept testing takes place in the early stages of the design process. Its purpose is to validate ideas with real users, either current or potential.
How can you do that? It normally involves low-fidelity prototypes like drawings or mock-ups which you can easily create in prototyping tools in no time.
Fake door testing is a good example of concept testing.
If already have a product in place and are thinking of adding a feature but aren’t sure if your users want it, you can add it to the menu and watch if users engage. If yes, it’s a green light to go ahead, if not, pivot in a different direction.
Pros of concept testing
- It allows you to eliminate ideas that won’t work early on without investing in their development.
- Concept testing helps you prioritize ideas that have a solid chance of success.
- It gives a better understanding of the needs of users. Even if your idea doesn’t make the cut, you’re learning a lot to make more accurate judgments in the future.
Cons of concept testing
- It depends on low-fidelity prototypes, so there’s no certainty that the solution will actually achieve its goal.
- It requires robust interviewing skills and clear focused questions to get actionable insights.
Beta testing process
Pros of beta testing
- It’s realistic – real users engage with the product in real life.
- The fallout is limited if the product fails the test because only a small number of users are involved.
- It helps detect bugs that have slipped through the QA.
- It’s a chance to identify areas for improvement and issues that you may not have been aware of.
- It helps promote the product via word-of-mouth marketing – if beta testers are happy with the product, they’ll spread the word.
Cons of beta testing
- As a user tests the product in real life, you have no control of the testing environment.
- Finding the right users is often challenging, especially if you’re only building your user base.
Usability testing process
Usability testing normally entails tracking how users manage to complete a task.
How can you track user behavior during the test?
Pros of usability testing
- It’s excellent for an unbiased assessment of how intuitive your product is.
- It helps to identify usability issues.
- It provides insights into user behavior that can guide UX improvements.
Cons of usability testing
- The testing sessions can be very time-consuming because they involve watching users in real-time.
- The results are often complex, and difficult to analyze and interpret because there are lots of variables like the environment where the test takes place.
User feedback surveys
While product usage data and quantitative surveys, like the NPS or CSAT ones, can help you notice patterns and spot issues, they give you little insight into why users behave in a particular way. To get such insights, you need to ask open-ended questions.
Pros of user feedback surveys
- They help you understand why users act in a particular way and what they expect from the product.
- Contextually triggered surveys enable you to gather relevant customer insights at the moment they’re engaging with the feature.
- You can use user segmentation to precisely target specific users to ensure a representative sample.
- They provide you insights into how users view the product and what language they use to talk about it, which you can use for further research or design compelling marketing copy.
- Helps you uncover issues that may not have occurred to you.
Cons of user feedback surveys
- It’s difficult to design survey questions that will elicit the right feedback.
- If the response rate is low, the results could be skewed.
- Users may not provide enough detail to make the data actionable. To complete testing, you will need to follow up with an interview.
- Users often don’t know why they act in a certain way or what they think may be different from reality.
A/B testing process
A/B tests are a popular testing method that allows product managers to choose the best version of the feature they’re working on. They are often used to assess the performance of various UI designs or in-app onboarding flows.
To conduct the test, you divide your users into two groups and show each of them a different version of the product. Next, you track how users engage with the two versions and which of them drives the most conversions.
For A/B tests to be effective, you need to test one variable at a time. So if you’re trying to boost trial-to-paid conversions with in-app messages, you would test two designs of the modal or banner and nothing else.
Note: In Userpilot you can only test in-app experiences and their impact against a goal, but you can’t test if a modal performs better than a tooltip unless running two separate tests and compare the results.
Pros of A/B testing
- They are great for choosing the final version once you narrow down the choice.
- It’s easy to administer A/B tests if you already have a product and active users.
- It limits the risk of launching an option that won’t work.
Cons of A/B testing
- There’s a risk of alienating a large part of your user population if one version turns out to be particularly unpopular.
- If there are a lot of variables, it requires multiple tests which are very time-consuming.
Product design testing is an essential stage of the design process which helps you validate ideas and select those that best address user needs.
When it comes to the choice of testing methods, there’s no one good method for all purposes. They all have different strengths and limitations, so it’s good practice to use a number of testing techniques to triangulate your results.
If you’d like to see how Userpilot can help you test your product design ideas, book the demo!