When you are working with stakeholders and trying to reach consensus, you sometimes get to the point where everything gets pulled apart.
If you are working in an organisation that is not particularly "UX aware", the Project, the Plan, the User Interface, the inclusion or removal of elements on a page, all get out of focus and somehow starts going a bit "pear shaped".
If your not careful you will be delivering something "Off The Shelf" or "Out Of The Box" just to get it "Out Of The Door" and not thinking if your users will actually be bothered. Oh dear, your shiny new "Portal" does not fit your user needs.
So what does one do?
UX Professionals must try to get validation from users in any shape or form. Testing as soon as possible is crucial to determine if your design fits user needs.
But we need a live environment to test and we don't have that, we would have to build it and that will take time.
Test To Validate Ideas
When the "pear shaped" scenario starts to rear it's ugly head it's time to get validation, and that can only be done by testing. So how do we test?
Early testing is great for getting insight at little cost. You don't need budget, resources or meetings to start testing your idea.
The Bin Man Testing Approach
- Sketch a design on A3 design for a desktop view and A4 paper for a mobile view
- Using a thick marker, sketch your idea in both views
- Show it to a prospective user for validation and take notes
- Go back to the design and use those notes to fine tune the design
- Go back to step 2 and repeat...
When the majority of your users give similar positive feedback gives you a good idea your design is going to work.
Of course, this is the most cheapest and roughest way of finding validation, but it also shows that it's really only the "idea" we are trying to validate.
Other techniques for testing could be sketches on paper, printouts of mocks, click through wire frames, all of which a very low cost and technology independent.
In this increasingly technological world we tend to think that computers will solve all our problems, but it's the validated ideas that count, because your team thinks but does not really know what their users want.
Your quickest and cheapest options are the approaches I have mentioned in this artcile and I would advise any UX Researcher or Designer, or whoever has what they think is a good idea to use these techniques to validate assumptions.
So what do you do when you finally get this validation?
Validation is the ammunition for UX people to help the team understand and respect users, how they perceive things and what they think of the idea.
So the "pear shaped" situation could be saved by some validation ammunition in order to shoot down the assumptions the team had about their users.
Reach out to your users and seek validation, but remember, they do not have much time for your idea, so you need to make it obvious.
Oh and don't forget to offer a gift in return for their time, otherwise they may not be bothered and won't give you useful feedback.