Tips for testing prototypes

Prototype testing

Prototypes are an effective method for incorporating frequent user feedback into the design process.
You can use both Axure or Invision to create high-fidelity prototypes. Regardless of the prototyping solution you use, here are recommendations we’ve found helpful for teams looking to evaluate prototypes with users.

Be prepare for changes

Be sure you have someone with you with the knowledge to make changes or fix problems with your prototype. Be sure someone who can change both the look and the functionality of the prototype is available before and during evaluation.

Be carefoul comparing prototypes with live projects

Companies will often want to know if their proposed designs are more effective than their existing products. Running a h2h comparison is a natural step. However, fully functioning websites or apps offer a more complete experience to users versus even high-fidelity prototypes. Consequently, in most cases, participants will generally rate prototypes lower on perception metrics compared to the fully functioning counterparts. The best way to minimize this confounding effect is to replicate the germane parts of the full website or product as a prototype.

Let users know it’s not fully functioning

Prototyping tools can do a great job at creating a realistic looking experience that participants will think it’s the real thing. When participants encounter non-functional areas or dead-end links they get frustrated very quickly. I prefer to set expectations ahead of time by telling participants it’s not a fully functioning product with a simple message about the prototype.

Have a confirmation message on dead-ends

Having hotspots in prototypes helps emulate the entire product experience. However, you often can’t fully build out content or features for all links. It can be a bad experience when users reach the end of the content even if you already told them it wasn’t fully functioning. I recommend including a simple message like the one in the figure below that lets participants know there’s no additional content.

Code your links

Even with a high-fidelity prototype that includes only 1 or 2 pages, use unique URLs for each key call to action even when the destination is the same. This allows you to easily track where users clicks.

Be sure to turn off comments

Products like InVision include features that make getting input from other design stakeholders (comments for example). But this functionality is not ideal when presenting to participants. The result is that participants in a study may inadvertently enable or make comments, see visible hotspots, or turn on the global configuration to see all pages at once. I recommend to disable these functions to keep the experience as authentic as possible.