All About Website Usability Blog – Holly Phillips


What’s so special about testing radically different designs?
October 24, 2009, 4:58 am
Filed under: customer-centered-design, usability basics, usability testing

I ran across a podcast between Jared Spool and Leah Buley about “getting to good design faster“.  The main point is that too many groups take a single design into testing and work on fine-tuning that design, instead of testing several radically different designs.    I couldn’t agree more, but wonder why this is even an issue. 

Isn’t it common sense to take full advantage of your time in front of customers by trying radically different things?  Doesn’t everybody know that putting all your bets on a single design before getting any customer input at all is setting you up for possibly putting lipstick on a pig?  This, after all,  is the heart of true customer-centered-design:  don’t rely on your intuition to settle on a design, but rather use the power of customer input to help find the best direction.

I’m perplexed at why, according to the podcast, so few companies seem to do that.  Maybe they only have time/money for a single round of customer testing and would rather fine-tune a single design than test several higher-level design concepts.  Or maybe they’re so confident in their initial design that they don’t feel the need to test anything else.  I dont’ know, but I do know that it’s a huge missed opportunity to learn what you don’t know, gain new insight, and broaden your horizons.  I for one will continue to push for always thinking outside of the box and testing new ideas along with your best guess.  You never know when your customers will surprise you.

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