To build great products you must provide a positive experience that helps users solve problems in an intuitive way.

Whether you are creating an app from scratch or some new features, you need time to validate to make sure your new ideas work in real life.

Why Is It Important to Do User Validation?

According to localitycs.com’s abandonment rate study, 24% of users abandon an app after having just one or two bad experiences. This happens because most of the important functionality issues aren’t identified until after a release.

If you want your new features and products to succeed, validation before building is crucial as it is gets rid of assumptions.

Reasons why validation is worth a try,

Validation helps you,

Rapid prototyping offers you an easy and efficient way to gather valuable insights by testing the app’s core functionality and aesthetics at early stages. This will allow you to find what is wrong, right, or missing at the right time.

What is Rapid Prototyping?

Rapid prototyping is a methodology used during the early stages of the product development process for testing new ideas faster.

Whether you are testing an app or a website, it consists on translating your app ideas into sketches, wireframes or mockups in order to gather feedback from potential users. The purpose is to find critical errors before even starting the development process.

Validate Fast with Rapid Prototyping

You can start Rapid Prototyping with three iterative steps: Prototyping, Testing and Feedback Interpretation.

This means that in many cases, users may not be satisfied with the first round of your product testing and you will probably need to repeat the cycle more than once. But don’t let it get to you, this is actually a good thing. The more you iterate, the better your chances of creating a great app from the start.

1. Prototyping

Before prototyping, you need to have a scope of what you want to validate. Let’s say you have a booking app, a good place to start would be testing the core of the booking process. Once you have the scope of the prototype, you’ll need to choose the level of detail in which you are going to build the prototype.

You can choose one of the following three types of prototypes,

Paper Prototypes

Paper prototypes are the fastest way to validate. There is no need to focus much on aesthetic details since they cover the high level functionality of the app only. Paper prototypes are hand-made, meaning that the only tools needed are paper and a pencil. Of course, you can complement your prototypes at the time of testing with some prototyping tools like Invision, Popapp or even using a paper canvas.

Wireframe Prototypes

Wireframes Prototypes, unlike paper ones, are created with more detail. They focus on more specific interactions and cover more behaviours in the workflow. Wireframes are still considered a low fidelity level, but do allow for a wider range of detailed screens for testing.

High Fidelity Mockup Prototypes

High fidelity mockups focus not only on the functionality of the app, but on the aesthetics as well. Its screens represent most of the visual design, if not all. These prototypes virtually show how the final product will look, allowing for important feedback on the visual side of the app.

2. Testing

After prototyping, the next step in Rapid Prototyping is the testing of your brand new prototypes. Whether you chose a paper, wireframe or mockup prototype, it’s crucial to keep in mind the following recommendations:

Gather the Right Users

Testing your app with the people who are actually going to use it will help you get the most accurate feedback. While recruiting actual users may be ideal, gathering potential users works just as well. To eliminate bias, potential users shouldn’t be your family and friends though! You need only recruit five to seven users for each case; they will be enough to get you going.

Testing

You can use various methodologies such as interviews or usability testing to gather feedback for your prototype. In each case it is very important to have a testing script prior to the meeting.

The script will be your guide through the main subjects you want to cover during the testing. Listen to what the user has to say and take all the notes you can. Remember to always ask “WHY”, it is crucial if we want to make an informed decision to improve the app.

3. Interpreting Feedback

At the end of each testing session, you will have a bunch of feedback notes. It doesn’t matter if you have them on sticky notes in your prototypes or in Google Docs. You need to make sense of all the information but use caution. You don’t need to take every piece of user feedback into consideration. Instead, find patterns within the information.

Finding patterns will prevent your app from having unjustified changes. Just because one user said he did not like the search input doesn’t mean you have to change it. But if most users had a hard time with the search, that’s something you’d want to pay attention to.

Rapid Prototyping Is an Iterative Process

Once you finish the first round of validation, you will have a lot of interpreted feedback ready to be applied to new prototypes. Some things will need small tweaks while others may demand a fresh start. Gather all your data and start creating your new prototypes, make sure you choose the fidelity accordingly.

For the second round, you may want cover the applied changes by showing more detail and adding more to the functionality.

It’s recommended to apply two or three rounds of the process. If for some reason you couldn’t get what you wanted from the tests, iterate one more time to get the desired feedback. There will be a point in which you have covered all the issues with the established scope. Once that happens, if more scopes are pending, begin the process again with other scopes and repeat.

Upcoming Webinar on Rapid Prototyping

If you’d like to know more about this topic be sure to register for our free webinar “Validate Your Product Swiftly with Rapid Prototyping” on July 27th at 11:00 am PST.

If you have any questions, you can send me a line at mmedina@nearsoft.com.