Prototype, Test, Refine

Prototyping, testing, and refining your design is the most pivotal step in your process.

The central idea of UX design lies not in designing out of a pure creative impulse, but a user-centred, iterative process. Even with a small budget, you can make this happen effectively.

Often, indie creators and startups jump straight into the development of their products without sufficiently validating and prototyping their concepts.

In the long run, this results in:

  • wasted time solving the wrong problem,
  • massive expenses on development time or paying developers to build a product people don’t want or need,
  • demotivation from having to then go back to the drawing board and start again, and,
  • losing their opportunity to be the first to market with a suitable product.

The number one recommendation for avoiding this is fostering a user-centric approach, prototyping your concepts, testing repeatedly and iterating based on the feedback until you’re confident you have landed on the right problem to solve and a suitable solution.

Don’t know where to start with prototyping? Figma has made it super easy to get going:

As in any part of life, perfect doesn't exist. Constant iteration based on real-user feedback and data is the key to achieving a design that resonates with your users.

Don’t know when to stop testing your prototypes? Research has repeatedly shown that you only need about 5 participants to identify most usability defects. After 5 participants have given their feedback, you’ll likely only hear the same problems over and over again.

But you also can’t afford to repeatedly cycle through these steps and never produce anything. At some point, you need to be able to decide that you’ve done enough preparation to begin working on your solution.

I recommend that you set out some specific metrics for when you stop iterating on your initial version and begin building. An example of those could be:

  • Over 70% of the people you test with can complete the actions you wanted them to perform without problems.
  • Over 50% of the people you test with express interest in using your solution.

Crucially, once you have a functional solution, this should result in an evolution in your research process - one that is now focused on user behaviour, feedback and product evolution.

Actionable Steps

  • Make a simple prototype of one idea or feature you’ve been considering.
  • Test the prototype with 5 people.
  • Review the feedback and consider how you could improve your design.