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User testing throughout each stage of your company’s development process is a surefire way to keep your intentions inline with your end user’s expectations. By integrating a ‘test and optimize’ approach from the outset of a new initiative you will be much less likely to run into major roadblocks and disappointing responses when you reach the finish line. You’ll be able to navigate questions raised during executive reviews by backing up your presentation with tested certainty, and build a business case for the more skeptical stakeholders.
1) RESEARCH AND PLANNING At the beginning of every project, you’ll undoubtedly perform some kind of analysis, market research, or requirements gathering. As you build out your roadmap, use remote user testing to gain additional insight that will help you create in-depth user stories or personas.
2) DESIGN When you’re in the design phase, it’s important to remember that gaining feedback early and often is essential. The earlier on in the process you can narrow down concepts and refine your designs the better, since this can be a complex and time consuming part of any project.
3) PROTOTYPING Avoid bottlenecks in your development process by expediting feedback on key user flows. This is when the rubber hits the road for many stakeholders, and a critical component of any successful rollout depends on getting functionality right the first time around.
4) DEVELOPMENT + STAGING Running into roadblocks with the engineering team? Hoping to clarify weak user stories so that your developers understand what is needed? Reviewing user tests as a team (highlight reels are perfect for this!) will paint a clear picture for everyone involved in turning your ideas into reality.
5) RELEASE You probably made some last-minute changes based on a previous round of feedback, now is the perfect time to test them out. In addition to validating prior work, take the time after release to document overlooked areas and re-prioritize subsequent releases.
6) MAINTENANCE + OPTIMIZATION It might seem like a no-brainer, but many times the smallest changes can lead to big results. By incorporating remote user testing into your ongoing optimization planning you could save your company loads of time and money.
Short, manageable bursts of testing will often yield very powerful insight and help to keep your budget, resources, and used time to a minimum. If you choose this route, and spread out your testing in order to stay within scope, you’ll probably also find that tracking feedback along the development process will result in a stronger, more viable end product.
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About the author:
Stef Miller is a former marketer at UserTesting, where she spent most of her time connecting people with content. Miller has worked for global corporations and teeny tiny studios, and believes that true happiness comes from collaborating with creative people to make awesome things happen.