Test Your Idea

Now that you have an idea and a testing plan, it’s time to share your prototype with others to see what works about your idea, and what needs improvement. Remember -- this phase is not about validating your idea. It’s about gathering feedback from your users so you can create a meaningful, effective, and valuable solution to your design challenge. Make sure you let them know that it’s only a prototype, and not a final version.

After each round of testing, use the next activity (Decide on Next Steps) to share your notes with your team and assess whether you should continue to develop your prototype, go back to the drawing board, or move to Transform to implement your solution.

Before you begin, refer to the planning checklist below to help prepare your team for testing.

Time Needed

Several testing sessions over the course of several weeks

Testing Preparation Checklist

Before you go out “into the field” (as we say), make sure you’ve thought through the following items. 

  • Have you decided on each team members’ responsibilities (i.e., all doing separate testing sessions, in pairs, or as a whole team)?
  • Have you identified specific people you will be engaging to test?
  • Have you scheduled a meeting time with them?
  • Have you let them know if and how you will be recording your session (notes, voice recorder, camera)?
  • Have you prepared them for what you will be doing (make sure to let them know who will be there, what you will be doing, what the project is for, and how you will be using the information gathered from them – i.e., if taking pictures, may be sharing on public site…)?
  • Have you created supporting materials you will need, such as user surveys or note-taking guides?
  • Have you thought about who you might need to alert before testing your idea with others, such as securing permissions or getting buy-in from administrators?
  • Have you thought about how you want to introduce what you are doing? Remember to tell them this is just a prototype, and that you need their honest feedback in order to make it as good as it can be. If you want them to focus on one aspect of it rather than others, let them know.

Document your testing sessions

Taking videos or photos can be a useful tool for assessing how a prototype is working. This will also help you tell your story.

Invite honesty and openness

Introduce your prototype as a sketch that you are working on. Make it clear that the development of your idea is still in progress, and that you have not spent much time on building the prototype or refining the details.

Stay neutral

Present all concepts with a neutral tone. Don’t be defensive—listen to all the feedback and take notes both on the positive and negative comments.

Frame questions constructively

Formulate your questions so that they lead to constructive feedback and encourage participants to build on your idea, such as:

  • Can you describe what excites you the most about this idea, and why?
  • If you could change one thing about this prototype, what would it be?
  • What would you like to improve about this idea?

Use a critical eye

When you’re introducing your prototype to others, give some context into what it is, but don’t try and “sell” it. Leave room for their reactions, and be open to listening. This is a time for finding the aspects of your idea that work well, while keeping an eye out for things that aren’t working so well.

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