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Interactive prototypes are a great way to implement efficient, early-stage SDLC user testing… but are you doing it right? Follow these 5 tips and user test your prototypes like a pro

User testing at the prototyping stage of a Software Development Life Cycle can avoid the kind of last minute crisis that gives most development teams nightmares: after months of hard work, you’re in the final countdown to product launch when a user test reveals a massive glitch you had no idea existed. Back to the drawing board for you guys. Should have user tested the prototype, right? Right.

But bear one thing in mind: user testing on an interactive wireframe requires a different approach from that applied when testing your actual software.

Check out our 5 tips for avoiding common problems when user testing prototypes and make sure the software development lifecycle is as efficient as it can be.

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Test prototypes early on, iterate, test again

The sooner bugs are found, the sooner they’re fixed. Pull out user tests at the wireframing stage and you can ensure that testers have to focus on the real basics of your web or app solution – Information Architecture and main flows, for example. Try out some guerilla testing with unsuspecting victims on paper wireframes, then incorporate the feedback into your interactive prototypes and user test again.

Measure success (and failure!)

Follow these 2 simple rules to make sure your user tests produce useful data.
– Instead of just giving testers your software and hoping they say something useful, set specific tasks and measure them in terms of completion/incompletion.
– Problems tell you as much as successes, so document them. And document which users had problems and when. Detailed data like this will be invaluable when you’re iterating.

Dummy text is for dummies

Arbitrary Lorem ipsum can confuse testers: content is an important part of realistic user testing, and you don’t want users asking why your software is in Greek. Use real content in your prototypes; if you haven’t generated real content yet take some time to write relevant placeholder text.


Don’t self-test your prototypes

On small projects it can feel like you just don’t have time to set up complex user tests, go hunting for users, run the tests… But assuming that you can test your prototypes on yourself is a big mistake; you’re way too familiar with the software, you can’t help but be biased. Instead, use a solution like ATryBox to source third party testers and organize different types of user test.

Give users descriptive, not prescriptive, instructions

It’s important to make sure that your users can solve problems on their own when testing your prototype, so don’t give them any clues in the language you use when setting tasks. Use descriptive language (“You want to share a photo with friends”) rather than prescriptive (“Go to the Publish button and select the contacts you want to share with”). By being descriptive you’ll know whether your user interface is truly intuitive.

A longer version of this post was originally published on ATryBox, a user testing marketplace designed using Justinmind prototypes. Check out the blog post here!

Cassandra is Marketing Lead at Justinmind

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