6 Tips For Rapid, Remote Testing
To put all this theory into action, let’s walk you through 6 tips for successful rapid testing:
1. Identify Your Goal
To start, pinpoint exactly what you want to test. Having this goal gives your test a direction.
You can better tell what questions to ask users and understand the outcomes you’re looking to achieve from the user test.
For example, you could set a goal to find out if your design is easy to use. Having this goal makes it clear that you’ll need to conduct usability tests to determine your target users’ ease of use.
Once you’re clear about what you’re looking for, determine the benchmarks or metrics to test your ideas against. For the example above, this could mean testing your design’s ease of use against your previous design or competitor’s design. This means setting goals for the usability metrics you want to achieve with your new design, e.g., 80% of your test participants complete the tasks successfully.
2. Define Key Stages During the Process
While it’s good to set the objective to test early and often in your design, you need to determine specifics to get the Rapid Testing Framework to work.
Ideally, it’s helpful to conduct the following tests:
- Idea or concept validation: The goal is to test your ideas, so you work on a user-validated one.
- Low-fidelity or formative testing: These are wireframe tests that you conduct at the early stages of the design process with users. Keep in mind that you can conduct several tests, and test anything from the information architecture layout to the user flow and content.
- High-fidelity prototype or summative testing: Finally, conclude with testing the final design with a high-fidelity prototype to ensure there are no errors or issues before hand-off.
In doing so, you’re testing each design decision from start to finish by keeping your users in the loop from when your design is in its ideation stage to when the high-fidelity prototype is ready.
3. Find Test Participants Early
Instead of looking for test participants at the last moment, consider pooling relevant participants early on. Not only will this save you time, but it’ll also preserve your workflow.
Here are three sources for recruiting test participants:
1. Recruit loyal customers as test participants
If your product already has an audience, you’ll find this method to onboard test participants particularly helpful. Since your customers are already familiar with your product, they’re in a good position to offer feedback on new features, in-app tweaks, or product updates.
Start by asking your customer success, service, and sales team to connect you with loyal customers who’d be interested in helping improve your product. Then, go on to create a WhatsApp group, Slack channel, or Facebook group to pool participants’ feedback on your design decisions.
For instance, here at Maze, we created a Customer Advisory Board of over 90 customers who share their feedback with us on new and existing product features.
2. Go to pre-established communities for finding the right test participants
There are tons of communities out there that host your target audience. For example, if you’re targeting a community of readers, you can find several groups on Facebook with your target audience. The same is true for Slack and Reddit hosting several communities.
So how do you find these communities? Head over to Google and search for "name of community + forum"
As for finding your target audience on specific platforms, take the following steps:
Slack: Go to Slofile, an online database of Slack communities, to find your target community on Slack.
Reddit: Go to the subreddit search bar and type in your keyword for the community you’re looking for.
Facebook: Take to the search bar and enter the relevant keyword that describes your target audience. Apply filters as needed and enter groups to find relevant communities.
3. Look for test participants internally
This is best suited for the ideation stage when you’re framing a problem and working out what needs to be done to solve it. Asking for internal feedback is also helpful in early-stage usability testing. Simply share your wireframes or low-fidelity prototypes to test your design’s functionality.
It’s all the better if your internal team is also your target audience. For example, Canopy, an accounting software, tested their Help Center design by asking for feedback from their internal accounting specialists.
4. Embrace Vulnerability
For rapid testing to be a success, it’s essential you go in with a learner’s mindset. Put another way, you should test your decisions with the aim to improve them, not prove that you’re right.
This means you’ll have to be open to receiving feedback and solving design issues based on it. In this regard, sticking with the following mantra by Hillman Curtis, helps: “The goal of a designer is to listen, observe, understand, sympathize, empathize, synthesize, and glean insights that enable him or her to make the invisible visible.”
5. Adopt an Iterative Mindset
Closely related to receiving feedback is developing a mindset of using the feedback you get to iterate your design. Essentially, iteration helps you better your product at each step.
If you have a hard time adopting an iterative mindset, consider thinking of the rework that’ll go into solving design issues close to your product launch versus tweaking errors as you go with little consequence.
The former takes more time, adds to the cost, and significantly reduces the odds of releasing a product that satisfies your customers. On the flip side, iterating as you go helps you finalize all your design decisions based on the users’ feedback and correct design issues long before they’re baked into your design.
Continual iteration throughout the design process helps you catch problems early on before they culminate into something serious if left unchecked. Ultimately, you create customer-satisfying products that meet users’ needs and solve real problems.
6. Share Your Learnings
Lastly, it’s essential to share your learnings from testing for two main reasons.
Firstly, communicating your learnings helps others in your organization see the full potential of implementing testing in your product development and design processes. Secondly, it allows designers to better remember what they’ve learned as they review it.
Here are some ways to communicate what you learn from rapid, remote testing:
- Create Loom videos that walk viewers through the main findings.
- Document findings as presentations or reports that highlight key takeaways.
- Plan a product team meeting to discuss main findings, takeaways, and next steps.
In short, rapid testing is the key to building products based on your target audience’s feedback and, by extension, preference. By testing all your design decisions in time, you save yourself the trouble of creating faulty designs that fail to please users. So, here’s to a future creating more user-centric designs!
If you'd like to learn more about rapid testing, check out Maze's website or follow them on Twitter @mazedesignHQ. And to learn more about other key elements of the UX design process, we encourage you to explore our UX Academy program or reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jonathan Widawski is a veteran Product Designer & former UX teacher. As a UX lead working with clients like McKinsey, Rocket Internet & PSG, he saw first-hand how hard it is for product teams to get the data, insights, and feedback they need to make confident design decisions. He therefore co-founded Maze, a rapid testing platform, to enable companies of all sizes to get insights at scale.