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What is User Testing?

User testing refers to an evaluation of a product, feature or prototype with real users. It is the fifth stage of the Design Thinking process.
A prototype inviting users to interact with it

User testing refers to the evaluation of a product, feature or prototype with real users. It is the fifth stage of the Design Thinking process. This stage is a convergent stage, because we user test our prototypes and apply our learnings to help refine to a final solution (or solutions).

Why is user testing necessary?

User testing allows us, the creators of the solution, to identify the pains and gains early before we take the concept further. The earlier we test, the quicker we get feedback and the quicker we can respond to that feedback.

Remember the process isn’t linear, and user testing and prototyping are especially iterative as we jump between the two stages. In some cases we may even need to go back further, as no prototypes may work as we envisioned.

In order to get useable feedback:

  • the testers must be representative of the actual user base of the product or service
  • the test must be impartial so that a user’s actions are not influenced in ways that lead to a biased result
  • the testing sessions must be documented or recorded for later review

When asking for feedback it is good practice to apply some of our empathy interviewing tips:

  • Seek honest feedback
  • Don’t defend your idea – listen only
  • Try it on a wide range of people
  • Don’t filter, take plenty of notes
  • Hand the prototype to your user and observe what they do (if you can)


What do you think could be the biggest risk when user testing?

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