Whether you’re building an application or a website, it is critical to incorporate user feedback as early as possible in your prototyping journey.
Getting relevant user feedback in the early stages of your project will allow you to maximize your design and development resources by limiting the number of iterations required to produce a compelling digital product.
The basic rule to follow when building a basic prototype is, get feedback and iterate with a more detailed prototype. Repeat process. Here I discuss three different stages of prototyping.
- Low fidelity prototype: The low fidelity prototype is a “quick & dirty” draft of your interface. It defines an initial scope of the product and kicks-off the discussion on the UI/UX. The low fidelity prototype can be a sitemap or some hand-written sketches. At Methys, this step is mainly internal to the team even though we tend to have crazy whiteboard session with our clients.
- Medium fidelity prototype: The medium fidelity prototype details the components of the low fidelity prototype in a more formal form, which take into account UI/UX best practices and the design guidelines of the platform. At Methys, we build interactive HTML wireframes that allow a user to navigate through a skeleton of the application or website.
- High fidelity prototype: The high fidelity prototype must provide an accurate view of what the interface will look like once developed. It is used to clarify some final decisions in term of UI (colours, fonts, etc.). At Methys we provide design screens that can be put in motion with tools like Invision.
Use all the circles of feedbacks available to you
There are about four circles of feedback that can be used to identify issues on prototypes. Each circle is most appropriate to a type of prototype:
- Team, relatives, etc.
- Industry experts, UX designers, etc.
- Customers (only applicable if the customer is not the user, meaning that the user is not the one buying the product)
Circles 1 and 2 are particularly critical to get quick feedback on low and medium fidelity prototypes. They can also bring valuable input on high fidelity prototypes. Circles 3 and 4 are often underestimated while they are the most important circles. Circles 3 and 4 can however only be used on high fidelity prototypes.
Ask the right questions
When interviewing users among the different circles of feedback available, one must be careful not to influence the answer. It is advise to use open questions.
The type of questions asked will also depend on the stage of the prototype.
- Low fidelity prototype: Is the purpose of the product clear? Are the main functionalities of the app/website identified? …
- Medium fidelity prototype: Does the interface guide the user to the right functions? Is the navigation user-friendly?…
- High fidelity prototype: Does the use of colour make the experience compelling? Do the images delight the user? …
Test with many users (but not too many)
It is recommended to perform interview sessions with several users in order to identify most issues in the prototypes. However, it doesn’t make sense to perform too much interviews as research proves that 3 users will identify 60% of the issues while 5 users will identify 85% of the issues (James R. Lewis 2006).
We hope these guidelines will help you get early feedback from the analysis phase to build a compelling product. Most of these feedback-gathering techniques can also be used to get feedback on a developed product even though in this case, you might want to get some analytical input to assist you (purchase funnel analysis, A/B tests, etc.).