How to test your prototypes
Learn how to test your prototypes, including setting goals, choosing the right level of fidelity, selecting a user testing method, creating your test, recruiting participants, and analyzing the results.
1. Set your prototype test goals
When running a prototype test, an important first step is to set your end goal. What are you looking to test and discover about your product? Answering this question will help ensure you get the results you need to take action at the end of the testing period.
Be specific with your goals, for example:
Instead of “I want to test my prototype,” ask “I want to find out if users can find information about a home loan and fill in and submit an application form.”
Instead of “Is the product engaging?” ask, “Does the prototype influence users to engage further and purchase a streaming subscription?”
Instead of “Do users like the design?” ask, “Can users interact with the design and navigate to book a walking tour?”
Remember, prototype testing is iterative. You want to be continually testing and gathering feedback throughout the design process. So it’s important to be clear about what you want to discover at each stage.
2. Choose the level of fidelity
The prototype you create and test will depend on your goals and the stage you’re at.
As mentioned above, low-fidelity tests are often used in the early stages. They can help you uncover early feedback and understand the basics, like whether users can navigate the layout.
High-fidelity prototypes are often used to test during the final stages of the design process. At this stage, you should be pretty confident with your design and be testing for minor usability issues.
Before creating and testing your prototype, you’ll need to decide which tools you’ll use. Again, this will depend on the type of prototype you’re going for. For example, if you create a digital prototype in Figma, you can then embed the Flows directly in your Lyssna test and run a remote unmoderated test with real users.
In the Lyssna test builder, you can paste or type the prototype Flow link for the prototype you’d like to test.
3. Choose a user testing method
The usability testing technique you choose is how you’ll gather user feedback.
Will you choose a remote or in-person test? Moderated or unmoderated? Again, this all depends on your goals, what stage you’re at, and the tools you’re using, along with other considerations, like resourcing, time, and budget.
Remember that tests can be a combination of these methods, such as unmoderated remote tests.
4. Create a prototype test
The purpose here is to give users a specific task to perform related to the problem your product or website is trying to solve.
Here are some top tips when creating your test:
Set a clear task for your users: It might help to create a story that places them in a realistic scenario. This puts the focus on the user’s goals, not on the product’s features and functionality. For example, if you’re designing a clothing resale marketplace, you might test whether users can set up a profile, choose a clothing category for their item, upload photos of their item, add a description, and set a price.
Ask specific questions: This is your chance to ask usability questions, so be sure to write questions that will give you useful feedback.
Assure participants they can’t be wrong: Be clear to your participants that the test isn’t about them, it’s about testing the functional design. So they don’t need to worry about being wrong.
If testing in-person, be open, engaged, and neutral: If a participant knows you created the prototype, they might avoid offering critical remarks. So try to avoid emotional language to encourage honest feedback.
5. Choose and recruit participants
In the early design stages, you might test with colleagues in your organization, or with a select group of valued customers. You can also run a pilot test with friends or non-design colleagues to feel confident before testing externally.
Ideally, you want your test participants to represent your target group of users. This might include current customers and those who haven’t used your product before so you can get well-rounded feedback. For example, if you’re designing a recipe organizing app, it makes sense to do app prototype testing with people who like to cook rather than those who use a food delivery service.
If your product will have a global audience, aim to test it with diverse and global audiences. Different cultures and customs might affect how your users use your product.
6. Evaluate and share test results
By now, you’ll likely have a mix of qualitative and quantitative data. Next, you’ll need to evaluate and share the results with your team and your stakeholders.
Prepare a clear report so everyone agrees and understands the next steps.
Whether or not the feedback is positive, it should give you a sign of what needs improving. For example, using our recipe organizing app, if users found the grocery list feature difficult, consider ways to help unblock them.
After making your changes, it’s time to repeat the process with a new prototype. This process continues until you’re satisfied with the prototype and no further changes are needed.
Top tips for prototype testing
You might be tired of us saying this by now, but UX design is iterative. So test your prototypes early, and test often.
To wrap up, here are our top tips for prototype testing:
Begin prototype testing early, after the preliminary design stage. This will help you identify and solve problems before you get too far.
Prototypes don’t have to be perfect. They can be low-fidelity or high-fidelity.
Set clearly defined goals.
Choose a testing method that best suits your goals.
Define your target audience and recruit participants representative of your target audience.
Set clear tasks for your participants.
Evaluate the results and implement changes.
Keep testing. It’s a great way to gather feedback at different stages of the design process.