Develop a Test Plan

Now that you have a prototype of your idea, you’ll need to develop a plan for how to gather feedback about it in the real world. With your team, create a testing plan for your prototype to understand what works about it and what needs to be improved. These activities are not about validating your idea -- that will be addressed in the Transform phase -- but rather, your team should be focused on how to improve it.

Your plan should include the following:

  • Which prototype you will be testing (if there are multiple)
  • Measures of success (you can refer back to your Design Principles in the Reflect phase)
  • Testing method (see the guide below)
  • Test group(s) (you can refer back to your stakeholders in the Define phase)
  • Feedback method (see the guide below)

You can use the following framework to craft your exploration plan:
In order to assess whether our prototype is ______________ (measure of success), we will be using ______________ (testing method) with ______________ (test group) through ______________ (feedback method)

Above all, you should make sure to engage the people at the center of your challenge -- these will be the people you design for, so it’s important to understand their feedback.

Time Needed

1 hour

Testing Guide

Based on what you want to learn, plan activities for testing your concept and getting feedback from others. The more experiential the activities are, the more you can learn about what’s working and what’s not. This is about showing your prototype, not just telling. Let the prototype speak for itself, and focus on what you want to learn.


“The best way to experience an experience is to experience it.”
    - Unknown (but a great Design Thinker!)


Once you have your prototype ready, use some of the methods below to test your idea and gather feedback from others.



Use your prototype to walk people through the experience.

Good for:

  • If you have a mock up, experience map, storyboard, or scenario, present it to people and ask for their feedback. Gather their first impressions of your concept.
  • For a quick way of gathering feedback, share it out on Twitter or Facebook.


User test

Give a prototype to others to play with in order to understand its functionality and usefulness.

Good for:

  • If you have a 3D prototype, consider having people voice their thoughts as they “use” it and observe what they do. Conduct an interview with them afterwards to understand what they liked and what could be better.
  • Consider presenting your prototype with “competitors” (or several other versions of your prototype) so your users can compare and contrast between them.


Role play

Determine who the key users are in your concept, and assign those roles to team members—or even users themselves. Decide on the situation or context (there may be several you want to try), and act out the experience.

Good for:

  • If you are developing a new service, process, or experience, consider using role play to show the impact of your idea to others.
  • Set up an activity or scenario as if it were real, and observe people’s reactions while they are acting out the experience.
  • As you are role playing, take note of the aspects that aren’t working as you had expected during the role play. Interview those who watched to gather their feedback.


Start small

Feedback at this stage can be small scale - with just a handful of people. Choose people who you trust, but who will also give you honest feedback so you can improve it before putting it in front of people who have a more critical lens.

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