It’s amazing how many products come to market that you look at and say “Jesus…… Did anyone actually use this before they released it?!” Bugs all over the place, terrible user experience, and no real reason to come back. It happens all the time whether you like it or not, they are all over the place. Chances are you created one of them or will do at some point, nothing is perfect every time otherwise life would be boring.

These things happen for many reasons: dysfunction in the product team; pressure to get to market; poorly defined assumptions; the list goes on and on. But there is something that every product should do on a regular basis to help flag when there is an issue to fail fast: test it with actual people! Not QA engineers, not with people from another project team, actual, real, live, non-techy people! *

*Disclaimer: Adam Flint does believe QA engineers and project professionals are actual people, just not for user testing

Testing is easy, right? You just get a group of people to use the thing once its built , they sign off and we go live. Well, that is a way and by all means continue to do so as usually that last round of UAT is a great way to sense check. But if you do your UAT towards the end of the development cycle there can only be three realistic outcomes 1) your testing comes back with some minor tweaks 2) Your testing comes back with a ton of fixes, you prioritise them and roll out what you can but it means you are releasing a sub par product or 3) Its so bad the product gets killed before that maiden voyage. Without iterating the user journey in the idea phase, chances are you will end up at 2 or 3.

I believe in getting people involved at the first instance. Wireframes are absolutely critical not just for a product team to formulate an idea but for user testing to. The rise and rise of good UX awareness has brought us many things (some great, some…. interesting but that’s another blog at another time), and the wireframe has to be piéce de résistance for iterating fast…and I love them!

Once you have a working wireframe, yes do your stakeholder management and sign off with them, but get them in front of your persona’s ASAP, it doesn’t have to be a wireframe of the entire product, just make sure that the feature you are showcasing is showing the entire user journey. Take the learning’s from it and critique until you have your MVP.

There are some great user testing agencies out there, I wont list them on here (unless someone wants to give me a load of testing for free!) but just Google it and you will see loads, the best ones will give full reports with videos.
Of course you don’t have to go down the agency route, just buy some sandwiches and invite anyone who will give a hand, just make sure it isn’t anyone who was involved in the product to date, the more diverse the better!