Home > User Testing - Tips, techniques and strategies > Usability testing high fidelity prototypes: a how-to guide

Usability testing on interactive prototypes can supercharge a software development project if it’s done right. Writing in Usability Geek, Justinmind explores the basics of user testing prototypes.

Usability testing at the early stages of a software development project can circumvent a variety of last-minute development hiccups, from reworks and unhappy stakeholders to full-on product fails and project folds. So high fidelity prototypes, which mirror look and functionality of the final product before a rip of code is written, can be the perfect solution for those who need to test with users before the development team get involved. But effectivly testing usability with interactive prototypes requires a different approach to testing on the finished software. In our most recent article in Usability Geek, Justinmind brings you a handy guide to usability testing on high fidelity prototypes.

Why usability test with interactive prototypes

Creating a software with awesome UX and usability is no mean feat; users are complex, as are systems and development teams. And getting it wrong is costly – according to Web Usability, it can be 100x more expensive to change a coded feature than a non-coded feature, and IEEE’s round-up “Why software fails” found that around 50% of rework time could have been avoided if early stage testing had been worked into the software development lifecycle.

Plus usability validated prototypes can help to keep stakeholders happy, as well as giving you something tried and tested to show potential funders.

When to run usability tests

Theres no one answer to the question of when to run usability tests; your software development project might call for guerilla testing with paper prototypes (you can find a helpful guide on how to do that here), or it could be more appropriate to run tests on high fidelity prototypes with in-built interactions, animations and test-on-device features.

You could also find yourself in the position of running usability tests throughout the various stages of the development cycle, as you move up through prototype fidelities and on to coded features. Testing with wireframes helps users to concentrate on the very basic of the software – information architecture and flow, on which foundations you can then start to build up towards interactive features.

While wireframe or paper testing has its place, we’re focusing on usability testing with high fidelity prototypes, which allows you to test out A/B solutions to complex problems, tackle last-minute bugs and watch as users react to rich interactions, animations, microcopy, branding elements and similar late-stage design features.

Read the post on Usability Geek here!

Cassandra is Marketing Lead at Justinmind

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