How to evaluate a product design idea with UserTesting

Posted on March 27, 2024
5 min read


Evaluating a product design idea is a critical part of creating experiences that resonate with your users. 

All organizations can benefit from an end-to-end solution for getting validated learnings on product concepts, prototypes, and live products quickly. You can leverage UserTesting throughout your product design process, from the first concept to post-launch updates.

Importance of collecting feedback on product designs

As a user experience (UX) designer, you may fall in love with initial designs, only for them to fail to become fully realized in development or miss with users after launch. Collecting candid feedback on your designs early and often is helpful on both fronts.  

Testing gives you insight into whether you're solving problems people actually face. It also prevents you and your team from getting too attached to ideas that will break down with users. Seeing how real people interact with your design helps you catch issues you'd never notice otherwise. Fixing these issues early saves massive time, money, and headaches down the road.

When should you evaluate product designs?

You can evaluate your product no matter where you are in the product development life cycle. The results can fuel your team's priorities for the next iterations.

Early concept ideas

To set your product vision in the right direction from day one, test concepts with users before moving on to prototypes and development work. Quick validation at this stage prevents wasted effort by exposing flaws early when they are easiest and cheapest to fix.

For example, before your team starts building a prototype, you may test a concept sketch of a mobile app workflow with target users. You can assess if the user flow makes sense to them and solves their problems. If testing reveals core flaws in the concept's approach, you can iterate on the vision and avoid leading your team down the wrong path.

During the design process

Evaluating wireframes, mock-ups, prototypes, and beta versions ensures your solutions continue to meet user needs as the product evolves.

Testing iteratively also allows you to build momentum by steadily improving solutions users gravitate toward while removing confusing elements. Testing every step of the way gets your product across the finish line in a form users love.

Before and after release

Prelaunch design evaluations allow you to catch any issues before subjecting real customers to your designs. Testing prerelease also confirms if all the effort put into the solutions has yielded the intended outcome. Once released, continue testing to make certain your product ages gracefully with users. Post-launch studies assess real-world performance and uncover areas for ongoing optimization. 

Different ways of evaluating a product design idea

Now that you better understand the importance of product design evaluation, we'll look at a few different ways you can evaluate a product design idea. With UserTesting, you can run hands-on moderated tests or interviews to get the feedback you need. Or, if you're looking for a greater amount of feedback more quickly, you can set up an unmoderated test to be taken whenever is most convenient for participants. 

Competitive comparison

Competitive comparison allows teams can formalize their competitive analysis process by recruiting participants to test the existing digital products of their competitors. Testing user reactions to your solution vs. the competition's can help your team understand opportunities to win. 

Concept testing

Concept testing refers to gathering feedback on early stage product design ideas and concepts.  Test participants can easily provide feedback on any digital asset through links you share in the test plan. The notes feature can be used to set proper expectations so that test participants understand they're supposed to give feedback on the concept rather than any sort of functionality. 

If you have multiple concepts to review, the Balanced Comparison feature can be used to automatically alter the order in which participants see concept options, eliminating sequence bias. 

Prototype testing

After concepts advance, a prototype can be created and tested to further validate the product design idea. UserTesting integrates directly with Figma so you can easily have users navigate flows, click through screens, and share their thoughts about the direction of the product. 

Usability testing 

Usability testing is a form of user research where you observe how easily real users can complete tasks with your product once it's been built. Watching them try out your design catches roadblocks you simply cannot predict otherwise. 

Examples of usability tests with UserTesting include: 

  • Visual design testing
  • System usability evaluations
  • Card sorting
  • Needs and frustrations discovery
  • Web, mobile, and prototype evaluations
  • Information architecture and navigation testing

You can quantify your experiences with metrics like task success rate, errors made, time-on-task, and satisfaction scores. You may then establish benchmarks on core workflows of your product like search, browse, account creation, checkout, etc. Testing those same workflows over time helps you measure the impact of product updates.

Tree testing

Tree testing is an excellent evaluation method for gathering feedback on content organization and navigation patterns. It's great for content-heavy online properties like e-commerce pages or apps. Tree testing helps you determine how easily users can find the content they need within your site's architecture. 

Observing user behavior helps identify where users expect to find certain content within your digital experience. For example, you may find that users usually look for shipping details under an Account section when it resides under Settings on your site. With this information, you can improve your site's information architecture (IA) and help users find information faster. 

Diary studies

Diary studies evaluate prolonged user experience testing. The test can last for a few days or run for months. Test users create periodic diary entries capturing their authentic interactions and perceptions of your product. It could be in text, audio, video, or images. 

Diary entries help reveal evolving use cases and barriers when users adapt products into their regular lives. The aggregated stories reveal the big picture of long-term product sentiment—positive or negative. Do users continually hit roadblocks that erode their satisfaction over weeks of usage? Or does your product make users happier the more they use it?

Evaluate your product design ideas with UserTesting

Evaluating product design ideas directly with real users is essential to creating experiences people love. UserTesting helps gather quick validation through every step, from early concepts to post-launch optimization. 

Eliminate guesswork and make confident product decisions rooted in customer truth. Book a consultation today.

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