April 26, 2018 | Kathy Totz

Data-Driven Design Series, Part V: Post-Design Validation

Improving the Odds for a Successful, User-Oriented Redesign

By designing with data at every point of the process, you will be far ahead of the game in achieving a strong and successful redesign launch. In previous phases, you’ve set the stage by laying out your goals and desired user and business outcomes and gathered data to gain a solid understanding of your users. These steps also supplied you with baseline information about your current site through Usability Audit Reviews and Predictive IA Design, as well as feedback on planned changes through a Prototype Review and Predictive User testing. (See part I, II, III, and IV.) Once the data is in, where do you go from there?

Based on tested and identified pain points, now is the time to incorporate these changes into your designs. You don’t want to wait until site infrastructure has been set in stone, as that will make even surface changes difficult or impossible. By proactively incorporating user experience improvements within the design phase, you will be able to avoid costly course corrections and prevent frustrating your users.

Once these changes are made, it is an ideal time to vet and validate them iteratively as your design timeline progresses. Multiple validation steps are so important because usability recommendations can sometimes be misapplied, or new usability problems can be introduced as changes are continually made to the design. In this Post-Design Validation phase, a second or third round of Prototype Reviews or Predictive User Testing helps you ensure that all usability issues have been addressed. Jakob Nielsen, one of the founders and leading minds of the user experience field, estimates that usability improves 38% per iteration, corresponding to a 22% increase in targeted KPIs per iteration.

Asking the Tough Questions

At this stage, as the designs become more fleshed out and concrete, you will want to make sure that every detail is considered. If any questions or uncertainty arises— Are the site’s navigation categories the right ones? Is the new search functionality going to work the way users expect? Am I displaying too much information, or not enough?—now is the time to get them answered using the right usability tool.

For many redesign questions, the answer can be easy to identify by referencing established usability research and user experience best practices. Established best practices from academic and professional research can tell us when one feature is likely to succeed—or fail. Meanwhile, other questions might be best answered by studying existing user behavior, using tools such as the ForeSee measure survey or Replay, or conducting active testing using Predictive User Testing, Predictive Information Architecture Analysis, or A/B testing.

Continually vetting design changes will help to confirm you are on the right track and ensure your site redesign is a usability success.

About the Author

Kathy Totz, ForeSee Senior Usability Analyst, conducts usability evaluations for financial services, retail, technology, telecommunications, and health care clients. She holds an MS in Information from the University of Michigan, specializing in Human-Computer Interaction. She also earned a BS in Psychology and Cognitive Science from Illinois Wesleyan University, where she published several peer-reviewed research studies.

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