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We are a user centered design agency which is stuffed with many user resarchers. We do test every step of a product and with a wide range of qualitative and quantitative methods, from lab usability tests, big big unmoderated usability tests or surveys.

but - now I really do not know how to test the following:

We developed a vision for our product based on user goals and needs. So far, so good. The result is an idea, how the product could look like in -lets say- 2-3 years. But it will revolutionize how users use and interact with the product till now.

Now we need first reliable data to be sure, that it is a good idea to make the first ministep to the realizon. (so, we must persuade our stakeholders to give money...)

Of course, we will do usertests while developping the product. But how can we test our vision first?

so i think now you need to know one thing: we integrated the vision in a prototype, but it is not really usable till now (users will not intuitively understand it and the usability is not on its max).

Do you have any ideas?

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It sounds like what you want to do is get feedback of a product vision without a working prototype.

I think you'll want to figure out some good mediums to communicate this product vision to potential users, and then conduct surveys/1:1 interviews/focus groups (whatever method you think will be best) to get feedback.

Some good mediums might be: visual mockups of the product itself or storyboards of how it would work in practice. You could even do a short video (but that probably takes more time and money to do). Or, if you don't know what physical look the product might have, you could consider telling a story (kind of like a scenario) to the user so they understand how this "thing" could help them in the future. It depends on what kind of product this is and what it would help them do.

Regarding the method of gathering feedback, I feel like having a two-way dialogue would be most productive, so the user can ask questions and you can talk about how it would work (you could either do 1:1 or focus groups). You can have questions prepared to elicit feedback, which ideally will give you valuable quotes that you can present to your management team about why users would love this product and that the product would be worth investing in. (Management might also want quantitative data in addition to qualitative, so quotes might not be enough... in that case it would be more tricky because you might have to also try to conduct some sort of survey and communicate your vision via text/storyboards.)

Hopefully this is helpful! :)

  • Thank you! I feared that there would be no other option than to rethink the prototype. A easy way would be a video, in which you see someone use the prototype and explaining what he is doing. What do you think about this idea? Or in a focus group, i could explain the prototype as a starting point for the discussion. Also I think, a two-way dialogue is important. We want to understand what is working or not, and why. I realized, I wanted too much to persuade stakeholders (as the vision is my bosses new baby), and I almost forgot my researchers value, ouch! So thank you for the wake up call! :) – Manuela Jan 16 '15 at 10:26
  • I think a video you described could work depending on what you currently have for a prototype. The other thing you could do is have someone act out a "scenario" but you leave the details of the prototype interaction out of it, so the user would basically be seeing what problems it would solve in their life (with a glimpse of how), but without too much interaction detail. Again, that's if you're still not too far along with your prototype but wanted higher directional feedback on your vision. Good luck, Manuela! – Lauren Dankiewicz Jan 16 '15 at 17:03
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Was waiting to see if other people have better approaches, but our team has recently done it this way.

Stage 1: Does your vision align with user requirements?

Do user shadowing. Talk to good mix of your users, find out what problems they are trying to solve with your product, how they're currently using it in context with other tasks they do outside your product. Observe, do their behaviour match what they tell you. Summarize this to a list of keys things that are important to the users and what they expect the product can do for them.

Now take your vision and go through the list. Can your vision support these key items and match user expectation? If it's way off, there's no point to go further.

Stage 2: When you say vision, what exactly does it entail?

Visions are ultra high level. Most people have difficulties grasping the ramifications of high level directions on a product's workflow. Which makes prototypes important. However to build a prototype that contains a proper workflow typically means you need to make a lot of assumptions in order to translate something high level down to a detailed enough state.

It is in making these assumptions where most projects fail on. For example, our team made some implicit assumptions that turned out to only be true under specific use cases and we have to rethink the workflow. If we have offered our testers more options, we could have found this out earlier. A single prototype is insufficient because there's no comparison point. Unless it's way off, your testers aren't going to give you much useful feedback. If you have 2 or more though, then they can start comparing and contrasting.

Yes, it's hard to come up with completely different approaches to address user requires while still being in alignment with the vision. But you need that as the litmus test. If your users say no, option after option, then there's something wrong with your vision. Hopefully tester feedback can help you adjust that vision.

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    I think i can directly start with stage 1. Stage 2 points out the problem: the prototyp is based on a lot of assumptions, and i worry, users will not understand the vision, they will just discuss the assumptions. I definitely have to think about, how I can work despite these assumptions. Till now I thought, i could compare with the actual state, but now I realize that that will prevent the users to think out of the routine. – Manuela Jan 16 '15 at 10:13

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