Validate

Test a design hypothesis.

Product review

What

A final review determining the status of the delivered product, examining the timeline, issues, and budget in comparison to the original plan, alongside thoughts about necessary updates or changes.

Why

To see how the project plan held up, and any immediate needs for the product, before or after delivery.

Time required

Project Dependent

How to do it

  1. Form a project planning group for your team. This team will first determine the objectives and goals of the project, and once work begins, they will manage to see if the plan is being kept to.
  2. To begin making the plan, do an initial assessment of the issues that need to be worked through and the difficulties that may be encountered in the project.
  3. Whenever possible, involve the community to get feedback on their needs, whether through town halls or focus groups.
  4. As the project continues, manage the plan, and make adjustments if necessary.
18F

Usability testing

What

Observation of people attempting to use a product.

Why

To learn a given design’s challenges, opportunities, and successes.

Time required

30 minutes to 1 hour per person

How to do it

  1. Create a prototype that sufficiently conveys the team’s hypothesis based on research. In the absence of a prototype, consider testing a competitor’s product.
  2. Stage a scenario in which someone who would actually use your product tries to complete a task. Record their attempt. Optionally:
  3. Avoid asking participants to perform tasks far outside their normal context. This will lead them to reflect on the design rather than their ability to accomplish their goals. (For example, to test a new layout for a “user account” section on a voter registration website, recruit only people who already register to vote online.)
  4. Analyze the user’s attempt to complete the task, looking especially for areas where they struggled or questions they asked to inform design changes.

Example from 18F

Additional resources

An explanation of summative usability testing and how to conduct evaluations using this method. The Usability Body of Knowledge, a product of the User Experience Professionals’ Association.

Applied in government research

No PRA implications. First, any given usability test should involve nine or fewer users. Additionally, the PRA explicitly exempts direct observation and non-standardized conversation, 5 CFR 1320.3(h)3. It also specifically excludes tests of knowledge or aptitude, 5 CFR 1320.3(h)7, which is essentially what a usability test tests. See the methods for Recruiting and Privacy for more tips on taking input from the public.

18F