User Testing is essential, just like I explained it in my last blog post. But your client / boss refuses to pay for this option. No, sorry, this is not an option. At all. They will argue that there is no money , that there is no time left, that the product is super simple, they already know the users…
1. Why bother with user testing? We perform well!
Client : no need for this, our product is great, we're not leaders for nothing.
Designer : Oh really? If you never test it with users, how can you be sure that they don't struggle regularly on your product?
Some clients are so confident with the quality of their website / product, that they just think they will not learn from user testing sessions. But they are just wrong. You always learn something during user testing, even when made on great products, you always learn something interesting for the design, the development, or even the business model…
Users change, habits evolve and if your product does not take care of the users today, will they adopt it tomorrow?
2. There is no money for user testing
Client : Sorry, but we can barely afford this website, so no options can be added.
Designer : can you afford two websites?
If your client or boss pretends to be broke, ask him if it is ok for him to waste the entire budget just to save a few grounds.
If you have barely enough money to do one website, failure is no option. So you should try to get feedbacks as soon as possible, so please, make user testing instead of risking to hit the wall and never recover. Remove some nice to have features and use this budget to test your core features.
One $ spent during design phase saves up to 100 $ in development phase.
3. No need for this, our design is obvious and user testing is just an option!
Client : Come on! I'm not an idiot, user testing is optional, this is obvious!
What is obvious to you, is not necessarily obvious for your target.
Designer : Sure, just like seatbelts, airbags or success…
Today, would you buy a car that has no airbags, no seatbelts (assuming this is even possible)?
If clients have the right to tell designers that user testing is optional, then designers should be allowed to say to clients that success is optional as well.
A client of mine once told me: “Never underestimate the stupidity of the end users. It's the best way to fail a project”. Nevertheless, it was very hard to agree on doing user testing on the current project with him! If a end user cannot use properly what you designed, then it is your fault.
Remember, what looks obvious to you, might be very confusing for your end user.
4. No time left for this!
Client : We just don't have time for user testing
Designer : Oh!? you go live next Monday ?
The more your wait before testing, the more features are subject to be tested.
The more there is to test, the more there might be features to redesign.
If you expect to use your time totes and fix things once your product is live, you will suffer.
The more your wait, the harder you might crash.
5. We already know the users!
Client : Nah, it's ok we already know the users and what they want, thanks!
Designer : Sure…
Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
… you know the rest.
I heard this several times, and each time this was just a nightmare when I took a look under the hood. All the decisions had been made on several guessing games. When people pretend to really know the users, I ask them for the personas, and if they can't provide them, I ask for more detailed information (attention span, socio professional category, favorite device, brand affinity, product usage frequency, biggest fears…)
Pretty quick I cannot get an answer, or I face irritation. It sometimes is enough to make people realize that they have been designing a project without knowing their users. By doing so, they face terrible outcomes. The sooner they accept to confront their product to their real users, the more they have chances to adjust.
As soon as you will defeat an objection, prepare to face another one. It might not lead to do user testing on this specific project but it will prepare the ground for the next ones.
What happens if someone systematically refuses user testing or warning?
To conclude: this is what you should avoid
I will remember for a long period, this client who asked for help to design a portal for its employees, but did not want to consider user testing, who didn't want to take into account the personas we provided them either, and that systematically ignored our warnings.
Once we delivered the portal, one third of their users complained heavily, because they had to use it on their laptop as they were mobile and working at their clients places during rendez-vous. The portal was optimised for full HD resolutions available on the screens in the headquarters, and the laptops were far from this standard. And as if it was not enough, users complained about the complexity of working on it, as the 3G + VPN + Laptop setup was way too complicated to operate just to check information quickly. Users asked for smartphones, and wanted the portal to be accessible there, and usable, of course.
As they knew everything, they were not in the mindset of listening to consultants. If they had listened to our warnings, they would have saved 2 months of redesign to go responsive after a desktop first approach, they would have avoided the unexpected expense associated to that.
A quick user testing sessions in guerilla mode, even with printed wireframes and access to the real end users would have confirmed our warnings, and possibly have changed the project before any development.
As a conclusion, you should insist on testing prototype or wireframes as soon as possible and remind your client / your boss that the further the project is developed, the more expensive it is to change anything afterwards.