Choosing a User Research Method — Definition & Prototyping Phase

Stephen Katz
Aug 21 · 6 min read
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Article Highlights:

In this second part of our four-part user research methodology series, we will:

  • Compare common research approaches including co-design workshops, concept testing, and behavioural demand experiences
  • Dive into the questions that need answering during this Phase 2 stage of product development
  1. Definition & Prototyping
  2. Development & Pre-Launch
  3. Launch & Growth

User Research in Definition & Prototyping Phase

The goals of this phase are to conceptualize and test out solutions to the problems we uncovered during the previous Discovery phase and to identify overall opportunities for improvements in the functioning and focus of our digital product.

  • Concept testing of prototypes: We test prototypes to see if they meet our original product value proposition- the benefit a customer gets from purchasing a product or using a service. Concept testing also helps us explore areas for further improvement.
  • Behavioural demand experiments: We then put the prototype into a market scenario to explore how potential solutions will perform if launched, what their demand could be, and if people will show interest and buy.

#1 Co-design Workshops

The Co-design Workshop approach is rooted in the belief that more rounded and innovative solutions come from participants bringing their own expertise and experience to the design process. This method relies on the creativity each participant brings to the exercise over any particular experience or qualification.

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Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash
  • Build paper prototypes or work with designers to develop digital interactive prototypes
  • Roleplay new solutions

#2 Concept Testing of Prototypes

Once we have a few viable sketches and interactive prototypes from our Co-design Workshop, we can begin the exciting work of testing these proposed product designs to find out whether or not our ideas for solutions have merit. Testing at this stage will begin to solidify the design as well as provide more feedback on the product’s value proposition. Is that proposition clear and relevant?

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Photo by Amélie Mourichon on Unsplash
  • Customer Needs: Are we prioritizing/ordering the information/functionality that people need correctly? Are we addressing their needs? Have we created any new barriers? Have we addressed existing barriers or made things easier?
  • Good, Better, Best Solution: What are the best parts of each concept and how do they compare? Why do particular parts of concepts work well?
  • Comparative prototype interviews
  • Surveys

#3 Behavioural Demand Experiments

Once we’ve defined user problems and refined and tested possible solutions, we’ll find ourselves in possession of a solid product prototype we can use to launch a behavioural demand experiment. This type of experimental research methodology gives us insight into whether people will take action and incorporate the product we’re creating into their daily lives.

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Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash
  • Do they want the product? What sort of demand can we anticipate? What ratio of people sign-up or buy?
  • If we adjust our offering, does that increase interest or demand?

Conclusion

The Definition & Prototyping phase provides an opportunity to define the scope of the product, co-design concepts and prototypes with a diverse mix of people, and experiment with and explore the interaction between prototypes and the potential end-user. This work prepares the product for the next stage, Development and Pre-Launch.

Apply Digital

We make and market smart digital products.

Stephen Katz

Written by

Senior UX Specialist at Apply Digital

Apply Digital

Apply is a digital product studio with offices in Vancouver, Toronto, Los Angeles, and New York City. Informed by human insights and empirical data, Apply makes and markets apps, platforms, and brand experiences that are smart by nature and intuitive by design.

Stephen Katz

Written by

Senior UX Specialist at Apply Digital

Apply Digital

Apply is a digital product studio with offices in Vancouver, Toronto, Los Angeles, and New York City. Informed by human insights and empirical data, Apply makes and markets apps, platforms, and brand experiences that are smart by nature and intuitive by design.

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