Shortly before the research designers often ask me: “How much do I have to care about details in my prototype that is going to be tested?”. It depends on stage of the project and research goals, but during many years of making research I found out some universal tips.
1. Black and white mock-up is better on early stage of a project
Nowadays many designers agree that making black/white mock-ups is corny. We have tools which help us to prepare UX and UI at the same time. So, why do we loose time to make B&W project?
I tested dozens (or hundreds?!) of mock-ups. On early stage often we want to test an idea, concept, general usability of a project. I can see that it is easier to extract the essence about those issues from the project when we show to people B&W mock-ups. It’s evidet to them to focus on “the essence”, they are not distracted by colours, shapes, etc.
2. Never compare 2 projects which are on different stage of progress
You know the truth that people always choose nicer project. In context of user testing “nicer” means more completed and polished project.
If you want to test differences of 2 projects and you have an idea to show 2 variants to user – remember to unify you mock-ups.
If you want to be sure that one of the projects is working better, you have to help your users to focus on functionality. Never show to user B&W mock-up vs. colorfull and interaction-full prototype, because you will not to know which factors affected their behavior and opinion.
3. The numbers really matter
I have been working with financial project for many years. In financial projects numbers matter a lot. I was a witness of “beautiful tragedy” of some projects, just because of numbers on mock-ups.
It’s very important to choose data as real as possible. If you are going to test some project with people who earn on average 2000 PLN and have no savings – don’t show them mock-up with 60000 PLN ballance account and 150000 PLN savings. Firstly: this data absolutely abstract them and it would be difficult to them to take a role. Secondly: people often choose “nicer” project. More money= nicer project. Trust me, I saw that many times when user felt more comfortable and freely with some project just because of the amount of money presented on it. People engage more with “nicer” projects, it’s easier for them to pay an attention and focus on it. As a result – they understand better the “nicer” project because, simply, they focused more on it.
4. Stupid names affect the results
Same as number – names realy matter. If you want people to take a role and focus on your project like on real situation – never present them stupid name. As a user I can’t belive that the bank account is mine if the owner name is “Ciupciurupciom Kawasakii”.
Make the data on your project as authentic as possible.
What about your experiences with the “details of tested prototype”? Please, share of some of your experiences below! 🙂