Design Thinking: Phase Five is Testing
Similar to all the other stages of the design thinking process that are about adopting hands-on approaches, thinking outside the box, and re-framing the problem at hand in a human-centric way, the testing phase is an iterative process that allows you to find out whether your prototype or design successfully solves the problem or not.
The primary purpose is to test and experience the prototype’s efficiency, effectiveness, and usability before it is launched. In order to develop a robust design solution, you must test it, again and again, to ensure that it works exactly as intended. The testing phase doesn’t only help evaluate performance, it also saves time and money in the long run. Here is everything you need to know about testing in a design thinking process.
What Is the Test Phase in Design Thinking?
Also known as the “execute” stage, testing is the final phase of the design thinking process and can often be the longest. The testing phase starts after the product or design solution has been successfully created during the prototyping stage. During the test session, the prototype goes through several rigorous user testing to determine whether it succeeds in solving the problem statement you set to solve or not. The final result will be evaluated based on how the target users interact with the prototype and the valuable feedback collected regarding the user experience. Here are the five main types of testing in design thinking:
A/B Testing: During the test stage, you provide the users with two different design solutions – whether on paper or clickable – and ask them to perform tasks.
Concept Testing: This is usually conducted during the ideation stage. It is a simple image or sketch that communicates your concept to the users. The purpose is to find out how they react to the design solution.
Usability Testing: This user testing phase shows your design’s easy and intuitive. During the test session, you can ask users to complete a task and observe the problems they face. Tree Testing: It is conducted to check how user-friendly your product is. During the test stage, you will present the real users with a tree diagram of how the menu in your app will be laid out and will ask them to locate different items. In case they struggle to find specific information, you will have to go back to the stage of design and rethink it accordingly.
First-Click Testing: As the name suggests, first-click testing helps you in determining what will be the first elements that users interact with (buttons, menu items, and icons) and how to improve their accessibility.
How to Quickly Get Through the Testing Phase
Though planning the test phase beforehand is the best way, to get through the testing stage efficiently we recommend conducting the prototype and test phase iteratively. Once you create a specific feature or component of your design solution, you bring it forward to the real users and ask them to test it. (Man that sounds like agile development, huh?) User testing should be conducted with any guidance so that all possible bugs and errors can be easily determined. Doing so will also save your time and money as the chances of major errors occurring during the testing in the design thinking process of the final product will be minimal.
How to Measure Success or Failure in the Testing Phase
Even though testing in design thinking is a fluid, flexible and iterative process, it does have a set endpoint. The end goal of the testing phase is to have a prototype (end product) that is viable, feasible, and desirable. Here are three factors that help you in measuring the success or failure of the user testing phase:
When testing your design solution for viability, determine the following pointers: How will the prototype work as a business? Will it collapse after a few years without donor contributions or investors? What is your business model?
In simple words, the design thinking process isn’t about making a profit but developing a design solution that is self-sustaining and can continue to improve and support your vision in the future.
When ranking the feasibility of your design solution during the testing stage, focus on determining whether it depends on a technology that is yet to be discovered or is it technically possible or not.
Playing the role of the human, in the human-centric design, desirability helps design thinkers in determining if the prototype appeals to the emotions, behaviors, and needs of the users or not.
So, if your design thinking solution (prototype) checks all of the above-mentioned factors, pat yourself on the back! You have developed a solution that will help you in improving the lives of the people around you for the years to come. If it doesn’t, re-evaluate your planning to find a better, more effective, and efficient solution.
Testing in design thinking is the most critical stage because it is when the prototype you develop gets tested by users in a real-life setting. Throughout the testing phase, users interact with the design thinking solution without guidance, while design thinkers take their time to observe how users interact with the product and listen to user feedback. If users are satisfied with the functionality of the prototype, the test session ends there. However, if they aren’t, you go all the way back to the ideation stage and start the process again while taking their feedback into consideration.