On my current workplace, we are starting a new project but since the company has strict Intelectual Property policies, we have restrictions about how to approach the market so we don't provide hints about what we are building.

The problem with this is that it limits (a lot) the kind of questions we which to ask since the way we place them might indicate that we are building the solution for the question himself. Fictional example: if we would place a question like "Due to the actual cost of gas, would you like your car to run on a cheaper kind of energy rather than gas?" that would indicate that we are building an alternative to a car running on gas.

The question here is if someone had the same issue and how it solved (if it was solved) and if you know any method to solve this.

I thought that Capturing UX using Factorial vignette studies might help this issue... maybe... Any ideas?

  • Do you not have the option of making participants sign an NDA?
    – JonW
    Feb 17, 2017 at 13:41
  • We can make them sign an NDA but then we might think of "what kind of benefit would we give to our users (or leads) to invest their time signing the NDA to participate on the interviews". I believe that making users participating on interviews is already challenging, making them sign an NDA is even more challenging :) What do you think? Feb 17, 2017 at 13:45
  • 2
    Speaking from my own experience, we tend to use a specialist 3rd party to recruit participants (I believe they have a large pool of people who have given the OK to be contacted for such things), and a financial incentive will be made to them for participating. As these participants are already invested in the idea of being test participants I've never had any issues with people not wanting to sign an NDA.
    – JonW
    Feb 17, 2017 at 14:12

3 Answers 3


The question "Due to the actual cost of gas, would you like your car to run on a cheaper kind of energy rather than gas?" will not , on it's own, cause any kind of intellectual property issues. It would only cause problems if the respondent knew you were working for a particular oil, energy, or motor vehicle company (or something else vitally relevant to the question).

If you can keep the branding out of the interview and (obviously) avoid specifics then there shouldn't be a problem.

If your respondent already knows who the client is then you simply can't ask those questions.

If you're working for an in-house UX team (as opposed to an external agency) then it might be worth asking for an anonymous domain to be set up as a 'fake' market or UX research company so that you can separate the brand from the interview process along every step of the way from candidate selection to interviewing them in some sort of rented office space outside your branded building.

  • It's a good point to hide the branding out of the interview. I will keep that in mind. Feb 20, 2017 at 7:34

+1 on using an independent researcher to front for your company if you don't want participants to make assumptions about your product plans.

Also, I realize your example interview question may not be your actual text, but it leads people quite strongly. The assumption is that cost of gas is a pressing problem and that cheaper energy is the solution. Saving money is so reasonable – you'll get a lot of "yes" answers.

If you have a series of questions about various costs of vehicle ownership (gas, maintenance, insurance) that's one way to tease out the role of energy costs.

You can also get them to walk you through their decision process for the last vehicle they purchased. How did they make that decision? What were the factors at play? How did they end up with a gas-powered vehicle, or an electric vehicle, or a hybrid?


While I was browsing the web, I stumbled upon this link and it helps provide more information about how to deal with constrains that might occur to test products with IP protection (or other limitation) and thus, also help provide more information about the question that I placed.

The article talks about testing procedures when the UX team has low access to users and a long time to market (which is the case of my question, since IP regulations prevents access to a large group of users and the products that are conceived are release to the market with a long time window).

Here is the complete list of procedures that it's mentioned on the article:

enter image description here

So, there are 4 means to test usability under Low Access to Users and Long time to Market:

  1. Stakeholder Interviews
  2. Concept Design
  3. Concept Testing
  4. Pre-Launch Usability Testing

By conducting stakeholder interviews in this manner, you’ll be able to gain:

  • An understanding of the business context
  • Measurable KPI’s
  • List of worries and concerns to address from a business perspective

With concept designs you’ll be able to:

  • Allows the Product Manager and UX Designer to see if concepts hold in practice
  • Gives confidence in the chosen direction
  • Deliver a clear set of high-level wireframes and flows
  • Prepares team for concept testing with users

Through concept testing you’ll be able to:

  • Gather feedback before time and resources investments are made
  • Validate concepts from the user’s perspective
  • Understand the pros and cons of different design options
  • Base design decisions on qualitative data
  • Improve concept designs

By conducting pre-launch usability testing you will be able to:

  • Deeply understand Why users do or do not take specific actions
  • Identify roughly 50-60% of your user experience issues

In sum, these 4 procedures can help deal with usability when there are constrains accessing a decent sample of testers due to business regulations.

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