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methodical product design - Prototyping & Testing

This week's newsletter is about Testing. Testing is the ultimate learning tool when it comes to produ
methodical product design - Prototyping & Testing
By Akar Sumset • Issue #8 • View online
This week’s newsletter is about Testing. Testing is the ultimate learning tool when it comes to product design because as we all know; we don’t know anything. Well, we know something but it’s not enough to provide great products.

This is the last part of Discovery step in 5 D’s of Product Design and Development. Next comes the nitty gritty details: Definition & Design.

5 D's of Product Design and Development (Recap)
5 D’s of Product Design and Development is a framework to design and develop great products. It covers the 5 main stages of product design and development:

  1. Destination: Vision, Strategy, Roadmap
  2. Discovery: Inspiration, Ideation, Testing
  3. Definition & Design
  4. Development
  5. Data and Optimization
Discovery (Recap)
Let’s, first remember what Discovery was about. Discovery has three major parts.

  • Inspiration: Learn as much as possible as fast as possible. Read more here.
  • Ideation: Generate as many ideas as possible as fast as possible. Read more here.
  • Testing: Iterate as much as possible as fast as possible. Read more below.
The main purpose is to make sure that we are going to be Defining & Designing the right thing.
Why Testing Matters
First and foremost, testing matters because we don’t know anything. OK, I’m exaggerating but we really don’t know much. We don’t know if we really are solving a real problem and how relevant it is. We mitigate this risk with Inspiration activities. Then we don’t know if we have the optimal solution in terms of usability and feasibility. And we don’t what other problems our new solution brings with itself, either. Most of what we think we know are nothing but assumptions. Testing is the best way to learn things and validate assumptions since there are no books written about our very own problems.

-Can’t we just look what’s out there and improve it? Wouldn’t this automagically make us better?
The reasoning behind this common idea stems from the fact that most products in the same domain look quite similar. An e-commerce site requires listing, product detail and checkout at a minimum. Or photo sharing across different social media platforms do not differ significantly. Right? Wrong!
They are similar on a very high level but the actual experience happens in details. We can’t design great products if we are not diving deep into the details. Why? Because as the famous designer of famous (I used famous twice. This should increase credibility.) Eames Chairs Charles Eames puts it: The details are not the details. They make the design. 

The Almighty Bullet Points
  • There is no such thing as bad testing. The worst testing is better than no testing.
  • We don’t need the best tools and process and staff to test. We just need to; keep our ears (eyes and minds) open, try not to manipulate, be ok with some quietness and ask why.
  • Open mindedness deserves it’s own bullet point. We shouldn’t try to prove we are right because, well, we will. Wait! That doesn’t make sense! Actually, it does because we see what we want to see. How can we overcome this? By trying to prove ourself wrong. If we can’t then we must be right.
  • We must accept the fact that testing alone can’t guarantee the ultimate success. Testing, mostly, helps with identifying major problems and with identifying low cost - high impact improvements and alternative solutions. The actual success is only possible if we are on the right Destination. And testing can help with setting destination, too.

Common Objections Against Testing and How to Fight Them Off 
- We already know the feedback we’ll get… 

- The solution is already very obvious. Look at our competitors… 

- We don’t have time/budget/researcher…
Suggest doing it yourself in 2 days just with 5 users. Then show the value you created and slowly build up on that.

- My boss wouldn’t let me… 
Don’t tell them?

Testing Basics
The Practical Beginner’s Guide to User Research
Bridging the Gap Between Actual and Reported Behavior
Lean UX: Getting Out Of The Deliverables Business
A/B Testing Statistics Crash Course: Ignorant No More
Test Execution
The RITE Way to Prototype
The Art of Guerrilla Usability Testing
How to Easily Find and Fix Usability Problems
The Ultimate Guide To A/B Testing
Hypothesis backlog to capture and refine your problems
Remote User Testing at Vox
Prototyping, Wireframing, Sketching
The Messy Art Of UX Sketching
Considering Prototypes
Sketches and Wireframes and Prototypes
Remote UX Research – Remote Usability and UX Research Tools
Prototyping Tools | Cooper
This issue marks the end of Discovery step in 5 D’s of Product Design framework. Up until now, we saw how to get Inspired and use that to Ideate and finally use those ideas to prototype things and Test. 
The main idea is this: Acknowledge the value of existing knowledge and try to close the gap with research when needed. Then use that knowledge to come up with good ideas. It is only possible by really, seriously ideating. Finally; hypothesize, prototype and test your ideas. Even the worst test is better than no test. 
Aaand.. We should never forget that all this Discovery effort mean nothing unless our Destination is right. That’s why it is the first step of 5 D’s.

A personal note 
I receive very good feedback on these newsletters and that sincerely makes me very happy. One of those feedbacks was to wrap up these newsletters as Medium articles. So I did. Follow me on Medium to get wrap ups for newsletters every couple of weeks and some specials that I’ll be writing for UX Planet and
Akar - Continuously brainstorming
Users, now, understand the basics of Internet, right? Wrong!
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Akar Sumset

Hey product person! Can't choose what to read? Can't trust what you learn? Methods (frameworks, guides, principles...) are the solution if you know when and why to use them. Unlike other newsletters, Methodical shares content in a structured way so that you know when to use what.

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