LinkedIn principal author Doug Winnie describes the importance of validating features that are being developed with users while they are in development. Through the creation of specific testing scenarios, unaided questions, and recording techniques, you can get the most out of each testing session with your customers.
- As you're developing the features for your product, it's important to put them in front of users for testing. Let me give you few suggestions about how to get the most of your feature testing. When you're testing specific features, it's extremely helpful to have very specific tests for the user to perform. Giving your product to a customer without providing direction can lead to poor results. If you're testing or evaluating a specific feature, build a few scenarios.
Define the starting point and specific action for the user to do or a problem for them to solve. Make sure it's very clear what you want them to do, but don't give them too much direction. It's best to do the test in person, so you can learn from what the user does and from what they say and how they look. Encourage them to think out loud so you can hear what they're thinking. If your user gets stuck, let them be stuck for a little bit. Don't try and solve the problem for them.
If they ask you a question, just like in a customer meeting during your product research, it's important not to give them a specific answer. For example, if I'm testing an app and the new feature is located within a new menu, I might want to see if the tester is able to find and use the new feature. After they play with the app for a bit, they ask the question, "Where do I find this in the menu?" your instinct will be to show them, but the only thing you will have learned is that they can't find the item in the menu.
Instead, ask them a question, "Where would you expect to find it?" Now, you've made this a much more valuable session. You have found that you have a discoverability issue. The new feature is not where the user expected to find it. This can give you an indication of how you might want to change the development of the feature before you ship the product. When you're testing a software product, it's helpful to record the screen. For mobile products, there are screen mirroring apps you can install to record what the user does.
For our physical products, make a video of the test or at the very least, capture the audio of what the tester is saying. The main point of testing with users during the development of your feature is to make sure you're releasing something that has gone through some degree of validation and testing helps prevent the possibility you've overlooked something that won't have a chance to address until the next release. Conducting tests with specific scenarios will save you time in the long run and help you streamline your development.
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