Think of it this way, if you created something, you’d know exactly how it works, but someone who’d never seen it before would not. Their feedback is valuable.
Remember that user testing is not a one-time thing. It should be a continuous cycle. Test your prototype, gain feedback, develop your product and then test again.
What you need
In order to carry out user testing, you’ll need a few things to get started.
A working prototype (of some form)
You’ll need a prototype for people to physically test. This could be a basic wireframe for an app in the early stages to a polished interface towards the end of your product development.
Your target market
You’ll need people, but not just any people – you’ll need your target market. The more people you can get the better. A wide variety of opinions from people who will, in the future, use your product will highlight things that might not work, difficulties in their user journey and what works effectively.
Most people won’t do something for free – even if it’s testing a cool product. There has to be some form of incentive. The incentive doesn’t have to be financial. If you understand your target market, you’ll understand what they might be interested in. For example, many students are happy to do experiments for a pint, a meal or even a free chocolate bar.
If people need to come into a venue to test your product, it should be a neutral space. Many companies that target students create pop up marquees on campus and welcome students in. Spaces should preferably not be in your offices, but somewhere a tester will not be influenced by their surroundings and where they feel comfortable.
If you intend to film your users interacting with your product or you want to record their feedback you’ll first need to obtain their permission (normally a signed document) and then invest in video and/or microphones to record. Observing how people interact is vital and also gives you the opportunity to replay the event for closer analysis. Moreover, people feel pressured when someone is standing over their shoulder, so it gives you the opportunity to back off whilst they naturally engage with your product.
You will need someone to conduct the tests. This could be anything from an experience group that needs a leader to structure the session to several employees at a stand getting people to individually test your product. Think about it carefully and choose enthusiastic leaders with clear communication skills.
User testing is vital for your product’s eventual survival on the market, however, most startups are operating on tight budgets. If you are on a low budget, it is important to make these sessions as cost effective as possible. If you are testing your product on a large scale, you’ll need several prototypes to give several users. If your product is digital, you’ll need access to smart phones, tablets and/or desktop computers. You’ll then have to consider how you are going to collect your pool of users and what incentives you’ll give them. Then you’ll need to find a space, a date and employees to run the trials. Lastly, if you’re recording the user testing, then you need to pick a space that is appropriate for the footage as well as hire or invest in recording and/or filming devices.
In the earlier stages of your product development, it is worth starting small, but as your product becomes more defined, getting larger groups in will be of great value. It is worth investing the time and money to make sure your product will disrupt the market, make an impact on your users and drive your business forward.