Welcome to Happy Stories! Every week we’ll keep you up-to-date on the latest developments in the area of UX research and testing of digital applications. Tests ensure happy users and that makes us happy. Hence the name: Happy Stories. In Happy Stories #4 we’ve told you all about the right time to test your project within the development process, but what is the actual difference between early and late stage testing and why is it important to test your design at the right time? We will tell you all about it in Happy Stories #14.

So, at the end of this article you know:

What’s the difference between early and late user testing

And why you should conduct early AND late stage user testing

The earlier you test, the better

The golden rule in user testing is: the earlier you run a usability test with your users, the better.

This is because the earlier you identify problems with your design or application, the less expensive it is to fix them. Besides, the earlier you know there are problems with the design, the more time you have to improve it. With early usability testing you are decreasing the risk of failure.

Why early stage testing is important

Whether you are creating a whole new product from scratch or you are redesigning an existing product, the early stage user research is always critical. You have to take the time to discover what your audience wants and needs. It’s important to think user-centric and to create and improve a design that’s adjusted on the audience and users. Early stage testing is also called the discovery phase. This is the phase where you’re generating ideas and test the first design with your users. In the discovery phase you are focused on identifying patterns and producing ideas for how to design a better solution for your product. In this stage you can still uncover new ideas from your users and implement them in your design. With early testing you can ensure the quality and acceptance of your future product.

There are still a lot of applications that users dislike. The most common problem with these products is that organizations design these applications without asking the user what they want. In that case, you are going to frustrate your users and possibly lose them. And that’s why user research in an early stage is important. If you don’t pay special attention to the user and their experience with the design, you are going to spend a lot of time and money on fixing it. So that’s why we keep the golden rule in mind: the earlier you conduct user research, the better.

But why stick to early testing?

But user testing should be happening at every point in the process of the design. So why only conduct early stage testing when it’s also essential to constantly evaluate your design? There are always improvements to be made, even if you tested your design in an early stage. That’s why our opinion is that late testing is just as important as early testing.

The benefits of late stage testing

In contrast to the early, discovery phase, the later stages in the process should focus on conducting evaluative research. The biggest difference between the early and late stage testing is the difference between discovery and evaluation. In the early stage you are focusing on discovering new ideas and implement them in your design. Late stage testing is focused on refining the product and making improvements and refinements to the product or service. Testing in later stages of the product design will focus on validating or in-validating the direction of your design.

Your initial first design will probably still have some flaws and that’s why late stage testing is just as necessary as early stage testing. With testing in a later phase, you are able to constantly improve you design and adjust it perfectly to your user.

Combine early and late testing

But it’s important to keep in mind that the combination between early stage testing and late stage testing is the key. Only conducting early research or the other way around will not be effective. It’s a process of constantly finding out what the user wants and how the design can be improved.

Happy Testing

The biggest takeaway of this story is that late stage testing is just as important as early stage testing. But it’s the combination of both phases that will make you product perfectly designed for the user. And if you need any help with early and/or late testing, we are happy to help with our knowledge and UX labs.

Happy Week!