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Prototype testing can mean the difference between a successful or failed launch.

One of the first questions companies ask during the product design process is “When should we UX test?” The simple answer is early and often.

The design phase is when you work out your product’s scope, features, functionality and how it behaves. By testing early in development you minimize the risk of having to do improvement iterations once your product has been developed. This means that you can save time, reduce costs and prevent negative impacts on the brand or product image.

It’s important to remember that the design phase of a UX project is collaborative (involving input and ideas from different people) and iterative (meaning that it cycles back upon itself to validate ideas and assumptions). This is why it’s critical to put ideas in front of users during the design phase, get their feedback, refine and repeat.

Remote Testing Your Prototypes

Due to the development of new tools for remote usability testing and the rise of agile methodologies, prototype tests stand out as a perfect fit for this project management approach. Prototype testing is inherently fast, inexpensive and includes very quick iterations. In addition it is reliable and can be done with real users participating on their own devices (web, mobile or web app) in their natural environment.

As a result, you can identify potential problems related to brand awareness, value proposition, interaction and usability long before moving on to the development phase. With this in mind, we have come up with our top seven reasons why you should consider the design process as an important time to implement remote usability testing:

     1. Quick & Agile – Results are obtained within hours and studies can easily be repeated after making changes

     2. Real World Context – Test with real users on their own devices in their natural user context, something labs can’t replicate well

     3. Reduce risks, time, and costs – In the technical development phase it is easier and cheaper to make changes than after the product is live

     4. Robust data – You can collect qualitative as well as quantitative results for a deeper insight into the user’s experience

     5. All types of prototypes – Remote usability testing allows you to test everything from low fidelity prototypes to complex interactions without             needing them to be fully developed

     6. Quality samples – You can choose the user sample size and test participants can be geographically dispersed

     7. Results – Test results are objective and serve as the basis for communicating direction among teams

Conclusion

Prototype testing is a simple, iterative and powerful way to improve your product prior to development. Problems or areas for improvement that are detected early on help team members avoid frustration, unsatisfying results, extra costs and effort – all of which multiply exponentially in later stages.

A good analogy for expecting to have a finished product and then testing is a bit like trying on a clothes after having purchased them and taking them home. We can always take them back to the shop, but the cost and effort are high. If, however, we had tried them on before buying, we could have changed our mind quickly and decided on another garment.

The more issues you detect early in the project and the faster you can solve them, the more you can substantially improve the quality of the final product – reducing costs, time, and negative impacts on the perception of your brand.