Ovia Co-Founder on Prototype Testing
Gina Nebesar is a career product innovator - from developing a women's health app used by millions to a whole new take on vending machines. Early prototypes enable product managers to collect valuable insights from users early in the development process. Gina shares best practices for creating effective prototypes that provide the answers needed to create optimal product designs.
Prototype Best Practices: From Interviews to V1
Today, we have the luxury of being able to test a new prototype with input from millions of users. Furthermore, we’re able to collect insights from users well before engineers start to develop the actual product. In my experience, you need to make user research the number one driver for new products or features. Even during the design process, collecting user feedback ensures that your product design is informed by continuous learning. Ultimately, you want to save engineering for final development and make sure that your product has been thoroughly informed by user input.
In order to make this happen, you need to set up a wide range of user interviews. That said, the people you choose will make all the difference in the results you receive. First, you need to get into the habit of interviewing someone every day. Next, you should target users who have submitted specific requests for enhancements to ensure that their needs are met. From there, I like to mix things up and include users who haven’t made enhancement requests. Most importantly, you want to make sure that your most “vocal” users (both positive and negative) are included in the process.
Outside of selecting the right people for your prototype development, you need to have a clear picture of what you’re trying to learn. The interviews that you conduct will inform these learnings and ultimately give you the insights required to build a V1 product. When launching a V1, it’s important to recognize that your product will evolve over time. However, there’s no point in trying to make enhancements to a product until you collect enough real-world insight from users to inform your V2 or V3 enhancements.
Sometimes, your V1 may end up staying as is for longer than you thought. For example, the community hub on Ovia Health has a ton of engagement and users love the experience. There are plenty of enhancements that our team could make to improve the experience. However, it’s a case where you don’t want to upset users when nothing on their side needs to be fixed. Ultimately, we should always be thinking about ways to enhance our products. But, always make sure that your user is placed first and have them validate your decisions.