We’ve learned that “surveys” and “tests” are an important vehicle that helps our projects get to where we want to go, much like how the Mars Curiosity Rover would never make it to the red planet without its launch vehicle. We’re looking to change how folks look at tests and surveys, to truly embrace them as launch vehicles for the questions that your team needs answers to. This means having less of a focus on what “tests” you need to complete a project, and more awareness of what questions your team has and how you can answer them.

This is why you should move past a “test” mindset:

  • Make improvements in real time. Don’t base 6 months of design on 1 month of research you did a year ago! This is the “old way” of user research and doesn’t account for the huge changes you can see from your audience in a short period of time. You should be asking questions and getting answers from your audience throughout every project to avoid developing products that quickly go obsolete.

  • Your product is always on, why shouldn’t you be? Don’t test only when you need to; be in the mindset of always getting feedback from your customers. Instead of planning out tests and surveys weeks in advance, use small touchpoints with your customers to uncover quick answers to your problems. Send a small survey in the morning, evaluate your data that afternoon, and now you have more information about your audience than you did just hours before.

  • Lead with curiosity instead of fear. Tests are often used to alleviate problems that may cause concern, or they exist as a simple checkmark on a list of to-dos in a project. This means you’re always approaching your feedback with the fear that it may invalidate your work. Your feedback should drive the work and lead you to new ideas rather than giving you a reason to pat yourself on the back.

The “test only” mindset locks you in a box where you’re only able to gather information and surface insights in very particular situations. Take the pressure off by thinking of your projects in terms of what answers you need to build the greatest experience possible!

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