The Three Levels of Idea Validation

People very often too early think they have validated an idea, whether it is a new product or a feature on their website. Truth is that there are different levels of idea validation.

If you google “idea validation”, you’ll find many articles about how to validate an idea. However, I haven’t been able to find any describing “The Hierarchy of Idea Validation”, so I simply decided to write it myself.

Throughout this blog post, the word “idea” can any time be replaced by, concept/product/startup, as the principles are applicable in different contexts.

Three levels, two aspects

There are two aspects to my model. An attitudinal and a behavioural. If you are working within UX , you might already know these two types of dimensions from user research.

Attitudinal describes intent and what people SAY they are going to. We all know that just because people say one thing doesn’t mean that they will actually do it.

Behavioural is about the actions people take. Here people are actually DOING what they say they were going to do. This is the greatest type of validation.

In research we use these different dimensions to ensure our research have the right amount of nuances in order to cross validate ideas and concepts.

Found at

Why not only conduct behavioural studies, you might ask?

We want to test our ideas as early as possible. To minimise waste. We want to make sure we have spent as little time as possible if an idea turns out to be bad. In many cases, the earlier we want to test our ideas, the less tangible they often are. This very often makes it difficult to conduct behavioural studies early on in your project.

The Three Levels of Idea Validation

Now, within these two categories in mind, let’s look into the three levels of user validation.

And it goes like this:

  1. Say they will do something
  2. Actually doing it
  3. Keep doing it

Simple as that, really.

The three levels reflects the commitment users make to an idea.

When we say something, we don’t necessarily commit to anything. In economics this is called Moral Hazard. As we start taking action on our promises, then we increase our commitment.

To make is more practical, lets assume you have an idea for a product you want to sell.

  1. Say they will buy your product
  2. Actually buy your product
  3. Keep being customer

Adding granularity

While these three levels should provide you with a simple framework for idea validation, it also allows you to add more granularity to it.

There is a big difference between saying:

“Well yea, sure, I would probably buy your product…”


“OMG, THIS IS WHAT I’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR MY WHOLE LIVE (while pulling out their wallet)”

It could also be that your customers start referring other customers, which will just further add to the validation of your product.

That’s it.

It’s really that simple.

Actions speak loader than words. Remember that when you try to validate your ideas, whether that is a startup or a new product you introduce.

Remember, I have started a new blog over at (in Danish, sorry). So in case you are interested in investments, loan or other types of personal finance, feel free to check it out and reach in if you have any feedback!

Any feedback is much appreciated at


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Nikolaj Bomann Mertz

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