We’ve been struck recently by how little prototyping and user testing happens in agencies, we believe passionately that it makes the work better. By testing digital products on users throughout the development process you can make sure their needs and requirements are always incorporated into the product.
We dislike guesswork and prefer to rely on rigorous and frequent testing and iterations.
By understanding how users will interact with your digital product in the real world you can iterate and optimise your structure and creative to ensure it meets its goals. By allowing stakeholders to get a better understanding of what is being built, they feed back earlier in the process when it is cheaper, quicker and easier to make changes.
We use several different types of prototype during the creative and production process to test our hypotheses, making our work better and better able to achieve the products goals:
- We paper prototype very early on. This is as the name suggests, sketches of the structure and content of the site that allow users to interact with a low fidelity version of the site. Early and frequent feedback in invaluable. Ideas and iterations can be tested very quickly and cheaply and flaws are uncovered speedily, new directions are identified as real world feedback is incorporated at a very early stage.
- We create clickable wireframes (black and white blueprints) that allow clients and users to interact with the structure and proposed content of the site in a web browser before the creative has started. Giving clients the ability to click about and get a feel for the site and content is invaluable for getting buy in and watching users attempt to complete key tasks is vital for ensuring the site works hard to achieve the goals set for it. Iterations, feedback and amends are easy to incorporate at this stage of the process.
- Clickable designs with key interactions – During the creative stage designs and proposed interactions are stitched together to create a more realistic looking site. Design routes and interactivity can be tested to see how users navigate the task they’ve been set (we don’t usually ask their opinion, always ask them to complete a task and watch what they do). At this stage we can be confident our design, layout and interactivity is working as hard as it can.
It needn’t take days or cost thousands and it undoubtedly create a better product when you build prototyping and testing into your process.