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Why test before building in UX?

Once your ideas, designs and prototypes are defined, it is time to find out whether they work. It is still a big gamble not to test.
Hand holding mobile phone displaying mobile image of larger screen display
© Torrens University

Product development has come a long way in recent years and it’s relatively cheaper to build something new than what used to be, however it is still is a big gamble to put your bets on a solution before testing it first. Once your ideas, designs and prototypes are defined, it is time to find out whether they work.

Chart of possible design alternatives related to cost of change
Bias & Mayhew (1994)
Even though your designs were inspired and informed by research findings, it doesn’t mean they will work in the wild.

Science uses a hypothesis to validate whether something is true or false

Similarly in UX, a hypothesis is a sentence that describes your design solution and how you plan to test it. Every element in your proposed user experience is a design choice you made. Your job now is to articulate that choice in a hypothesis. There are different common standards being used, but in its simplest form;

We can write it like this:
We believe… (an assumption based on research findings)
So if we… (your proposed user experience)
We’ll see… (expected result)
An example could read:
We believe users find the current process cumbersome.
So if we implement this new process,
We’ll see users use it with ease.

Cycle of development with 6 circles and an internal circle linked to from 5 and linking back to 4

1. Observe

What do I see around me? This can be your own thoughts, experiences or reading.

2. Develop theory

Why does this pattern occur?

3. Formulate hypotheses

What are the general causes of the phenomenon I am wondering about?

4. Develop testable predictions

If my hypothesis is correct, I expect to see a, b, c …

5. Gather data to test predictions

Relevant data can come from the literature, new observations, or formal experiments. Thorough testing requires replication to verify results.

6. Develop general theories

General theories must be consistent with more or all available data and with other current theories.

7. Refine, alter, expand or reject hypotheses

be prepared to go where the data leads you.

In an experience, we base every single interaction a user has with a product on an assumption. UX breaks down each moment in a single testable hypothesis; that way, you can understand which part of the proposed experience is working.
© Torrens University
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