“Actual humans will expose problems you’ve failed to identify during your design and development process. Even the best teams can’t predict every possible pitfall.”

Michael McWatters, UX Architect, TED talk

No matter how much talent you have on your team, nothing exposes the potential issues of your design more than user testing. User Experience testing and the use of prototypes are invaluable tools in determining the functionality and viability of your design. Not only do these tools validate or contradict your assumptions, they also enable the team to recognise potential problems early before writing a single line of code.

With prototyping, user testing can be  can be quick, easy, and beneficial in the long run.  In his blog on UserTesting.com, Spencer Lanoue ,  lists these benefits: 

1. Boost Your Profits

Dedicating resources into user centered can give organisations a big advantage over its competitors.
More than a decade of research, shows that businesses who place human-centered design practices as a primary focus of their growth strategy see a higher ROI of 228% above the S&P 500 average. Testing your product early and frequently will assist you in increasing your revenue in two ways:

Enhance your conversion rates

User testing exposes which areas of your design are not working for your users, where they get lost lost, and what is preventing them from that all important conversion. User testing is the perfect compliment to A-B testing. It provides valuable observations into your users behaviour. Armed with this information, you can make the necessary adjustments that will have the optimal effect on your conversion rate.

Improve Customer Retention and Advocacy

On the topic of human nature, New York Times best-selling book “The 48 Laws of Power”, author Robert Greene  wrote:

“We will flee what is unpleasant and distasteful, while charm and the promise of delight will draw us like moths to a flame.”

Todays internet users expect good user experiences. If an interface is confusing and/or they unable to accomplish their tasks, your competitors are only a few swipes or clicks away.

In comparison, when implementing user input into your design process, you will have the ability to create experiences that are noteworthy. Investing resources into UX will create advocates of your brand – loyal customers who will not only buy your products but will also inform others in their sphere of influence – their colleagues, friends, and family.

2. Reduce Costs

Aside from increasing your revenue, user testing will also save you money. Getting feedback from your users will help you make research-backed, user-centered design decisions. Armed with these insights, you can avoid expensive development errors and proactively address your customer’s problems.

Reduce Development Costs

Fixing an error after development is up to 100 times more expensive  than it would have been before. And an estimated 50% of engineering time is spent doing rework that could have been avoided.

Your developers’ time is extremely valuable. And you can save hundreds of engineering hours and thousands of dollars by doing UX research before you start building, and throughout your development cycle.

Reduce Customer Support Costs

Your customer support team spends all day answering questions and helping your customers when they get stuck. Over time, you should start to see certain questions being asked over and over again.

Not only will you reduce your customer support costs, but you’ll also craft an experience that’s more pleasing to your customers. And industry surveys shows  that every dollar invested in UX will bring $2 – $100 in return.

3. Determine where your users are encountering issues

User testing allows you to see where your users get stuck or encounter issues. Here are few examples:
• Navigation that is not clear nor consistent
• Features that do not work on mobile devices
• Confusing or incomplete information
• Search results that are inaccurate

User observation, interviews, and feed back are essential in determining any usability issues.

4. Prototyping is Quick, Easy, and Inexpensive

Perhaps the most apparent reason why you should prototype your designs is that there’s very little reason not to. It integrates seamlessly into most design processes. It’s safe to say that all UI designers begin with some form of prototype — even if it’s only a paper sketch done in 30 seconds. There are many tools out there that can easily integrate with your existing design process — from the timeless pencil-and-paper combo that’s been used for centuries, to sophisticated web tools that run on the browsers.

5. Determine design issues early in the process

Even the best concepts we create in our minds can sometimes turn out to be less than optimal ideas when we convert them into tangible mediums such as paper sketches or digital mockups. You’ll be able to spot the flaws with your design concept early using this technique.  Therefore, allowing the team to resolve these issues before we make more significant production commitments such as creating a higher-fidelity digital mockups or coding the design.

6. Iterate Faster on a Design Concept

Prototyping allows you to improve your design concept quickly. This can be accomplished in a relatively short amount of time – even in in minutes in many situations. Utilising the Design – Test – Iterate cycle can result in a quicker design process.

Summary

When designing and developing  applications from the ground up, we understand that our customers expect and recognise good design. The foundation of good design is insuring that the user is able to accomplish their tasks with minimal frustration and maximum satisfaction.  Prototyping is an essential tool in accomplishing good, user friendly design. Not only will testing satisfy your ultimate stakeholders – your users,  it will also increase your revenues and lower your costs at the same time.

We at AlfGundersen utilize User Experience and Design Thinking methodologies in our approach to design and development. We feel user empathy and user input is essential in the success of any product we design and develop for our clients.

For prototyping, we at AlfGundersen use a combination of paper/pencil sketches, desktop apps, and browser based online tools. We are currently using Sketch, a desktop composition app, and Invision,  an online prototype and collaboration platform.

Here is a list of prototyping tools that are available.

Sources:

4 Reasons Why You Should User Test Your Product Early And Often,  Spencer Lanoue.

Cipriano

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