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August 12, 2022

When to Go With Your Assumptions vs. When to Test (7 Questions Designers Should Ask)

This blog post first appeared on Dribbble in August 2022.

Research and testing make designs better. You might have seen this play out first hand, by running your own tests before iterating on concepts or working with user researchers to design a new feature.

You may have relied on user research to improve ease of use, reduce friction, and identify changes to include in your next design sprint. And that’s because user research leads to more efficient, informed design initiatives.

But we have a secret. Sometimes…research isn’t necessary.

That doesn’t mean you should start going into every UX design project blindly, but there are times when you don’t need to dot every “i” and cross every “t”.

As always, prioritization is critical. You know you don’t have endless time to test your designs. You need to assess what needs to be tested right now, what can wait, and what can move forward without testing.

First, Here’s When You DO Need to Test

Let’s talk about when you absolutely do need to test. No questions asked. No excuses. It needs to be done.

If you are exploring a brand new concept, you have to test it. It’s not worth wasting time and resources going down a road that won’t work and, without any precedent, you can’t make an informed decision. Don’t go in with your eyes closed. Test.

But test in a way that’s more efficient and less of a drain on resources, like with unmoderated concept and usability testing.

If that’s not the case, however, let’s get back to the question at hand. When do you need to test and when can you go with your assumptions and skip it?

Do you need to test? 7 Questions to ask

With input from designers and researchers, we’ve developed a framework of 7 questions to help determine whether you need to test — or whether you can get away with charging forward and feel confident in your decision-making.

⚙️ 1. THE CORE FLOW QUESTION

Is it part of the core flow of your user’s experience?

Answer: TEST! Whenever a new feature is an integral part of the user’s experience using your app, it’s worth the investment of testing concepts and usability.

🚀 2. THE SUCCESS OF LAUNCH QUESTION

Is the user’s ability to do this particular action going to determine the success of the launch?

Answer: TEST! Always test if it’s directly related to success. Hunches aren’t good enough when a launch is going to (hopefully) translate into revenue.

😕 3. THE USER DIFFICULTY QUESTION

Is this an area where we anticipate users could have difficulty?

Answer: TEST! If this feature addresses a pain point that could trip up users, you’re better safe than sorry. Test to determine whether you’ve actually addressed their needs, or if this new feature might create issues you didn’t anticipate.

🎯 4. THE IMPACT ON TASK ACCOMPLISHMENT QUESTION

Does this change the way current customers are accomplishing their tasks? Is this going to impact what customers are currently doing?

Answer: TEST! Newer isn’t always better. Testing helps determine whether you’ve made users’ lives easier, and how you can best onboard customers to adjust to the new changes. If a feature proves cumbersome for existing users to adapt to, it may be worth another look. It’ll also let you know you need to invest in a thoughtful onboarding experience to transition users accustomed to the previous iteration.

📗 5. THE BEST PRACTICE QUESTION

Is there already an industry best practice? For example, do you know that a green button signals success and a red button stops users from continuing?

Answer: DON’T TEST! If there’s a well-established best practice, it’s not necessary to test and you can safely assume your users will figure it out easily.

💕 6. THE USER PREFERENCE QUESTION

Some people like chocolate, and some like vanilla. Some like blue, others like pink. People will always like different things, and you can never make everyone happy. Is what you’re looking to test simply a matter of user preference?

Answer: DON’T TEST! A user’s preference about what is prettier or not isn’t impactful enough to test. Any findings aren’t likely to affect your bottom line.

🕝 7. THE UNREASONABLE EFFORT QUESTION

How much effort is this test actually going to take? And do you have the timeline necessary to undertake this effort?

Answer: TEST…SOME. If the idea of testing seems daunting, back up. Look at your project. Not every piece is going to be critical. Some may fall into the category of needing to test, while other aspects of the launch can skip testing. For example, at Sprig, we’re currently redoing our questions page. Testing that fully would require building an intricate prototype — but that’s not necessary. Instead, we’ll selectively test the highest stakes pieces of the page.

Start testing quickly and efficiently with Sprig’s User Research Platform

Want to start testing your designs or prototypes or ready to ditch legacy platforms that make testing feel like a chore? Sprig’s unmoderated, browser-based testing is easy to set up and even easier for your users to use. It’s also built for collaboration with unlimited seats. Learn more here!

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