Last week our Digital team had a chance to work with amazing guys from Adaptive Lab on one of the projects for Ebury Publishing. There was so much useful information introduced around how to improve ideation sessions, what stages the project should go through and what kind of user testing suits different purposes at different stages of the project.

The hardest part of this collaboration for me personally was the length of the sprint. In our team we have one week sprints, because of the amount of various projects we are involved in and all sorts tasks we usually need to work on. And it was quite challenging for me but yet very beneficial to focus only on one project during those three weeks digging deeply into details, going through every stage of the project with thorough attention and case, and also finding inspiration in how people with other background and other roles think and work.

Ideation Sessions

First thing that was good to find out was how differently people from other teams and groups think about the project and what users need. It helps if the group of people is not afraid to express their thoughts and everyone is honest and constructive. We were asked to write down all of our suggestions on post-it notes and put them on the wall. Turned out that some of the suggestions were completely opposite which was good, because it meant that there is a space for discussion and testing. In the end all of the suggestion were analysed, broken down into suitable bits and tested on real users. I've learnt that as a designer I have to be curious, to have a desire to know my users better instead of offering them what I think they need.

Collaborative ideation session

Pirate Metrics

Pirate metrics is an analytic method that allows businesses and startups to collect and study data from the users and iterate quickly on their projects with more chance of positive outcome. I say positive, because even if the initial suggestion turned out to have zero or negative feedback from users during the testing, it's still a positive result – your team will spend less time and resources implementing the feature users don't actually need. There are five key metrics that team members should focus on while working on the project and they include Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral and Revenue (AARRR! Got it?).

Pirate Metrics by Dave McClure

Photo from Dave McClure website

You can check Dave McClure's slides with more information about pirate metrics or watch his video.

Different ways of testing suggestions

Usability testing is quite flexible, so at the same time it is possible to test more general aspects of an interface like concept, user experience, information architecture, pieces of visual design. There are several ways of testing suggestion on real users. During the sprint we went through click tests which are good for quick answers on simple general questions, 5 seconds test which work very well for rapid testing pages or small parts of the website, guerilla testing that is best for very quick feedback to test the concept and identify problems, and, finally, in-person observation testing. Tha last one is an important part of testing even with unfinished prototypes, because it gives the chance to test them thoroughly with exact target audience. It's not a fast process and it takes time, but it's a good chance to actually get people's reaction to the product.

Here are some tools that can help with usability testing:

Peek –
UserTesting –
TryMyUI –
Silverback App –
UXPin – (also a great prototyping tool)
Different test from Usability Hub –
Loop11 –
Spur from ZURB –
Optimal Workshop –