Want to test your products? Hire a professional!

You've understood the importance of testing your products with your target audience and are eager to get started.

You plan to take a few prototypes out in the field, present them to your customers and get feedback.

It’s that simple right?

If this is what you think then you are probably unaware that testing is a field of it's own that requires specific knowledge, skills and experience.

It is not that simple.

Here are some of the pitfalls you may run into if you decide to wing it without the help of a professional:

This is a recipe for collecting a bunch of confusing or invalid feedback; not what you want not aim for...

There are many different kinds of tests catering to different needs. Usability tests, field studies, tree testing, 5-seconds tests, desirability tests, A/B testing are just a few of them... You need to select the one that is appropriate for your context and the questions that you are trying to answer.

Ux research methods , Usability testing 101 , Quantitative user research methods

Not all tests require the same amount of participants. For example, formative usability tests require as little as 5 participants, while tree testing requires at least 30 because you want to be able to identify statistically significant patterns.

The way you ask questions and react during a test can influence the answers you get. If you have no experience or training in user testing it is very likely that unwillingly introduce bias this way.

More examples of what not to say

Who are your participants and how did you recruit them? Sometimes the way you recruit participants can introduce bias (selection bias).
While there is nothing wrong with testing your product also with "extreme" users, if you are unaware of it that is where the trouble start.

Selection bias , Wikipedia

What people SAY they (will) do and what they actually do are two different things! Questions like "If we had a link here saying 'view details' would you have clicked on it?" or "Do you think this button would have been more visible if it was orange?" should be banned from tests. If this surprises you, I urge you to read the following article: Interviewing users , NNgroup

Making the above mistakes influences your results and leads to false conclusions. You risk:

  • Wasting time and money developing features that have no added value for your customers
  • Making your products worse instead of better
  • Making your customers very unhappy
  • Losing market share to competitors with beter products

So, if you are a company that takes customer centricity seriously then amateur testing is NOT the way to go!

Reach out to the professionals in your organization or hire one. The investment will be worth the while.

Interaction Designer living in France