, ,

Video & 9 Lessons from Understanding Users: Testing Products & Prototyping Workshop at BF+DA

August 31, 2017
futureworks-incubator-featured

Futureworks Incubator’s Understanding Users Workshop at BF+DA from SecondMuse on Vimeo.

Futureworks Incubator’s recent workshop at Pratt Institute’s Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator focused on understanding users, testing products and prototyping. Led by Anna Mancusi of the New York Times, Brynna Tucker of Brooklyn Public Library, Leigh Christie of Misty West and Abigail Edgecliffe-Johnson of Incubator company Raceya, the workshop produced great lessons and resources.

One gem in particular: A study by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers found that 50% of programming time is preventable with better research, and that product fixes are 100% more expensive after launch than when it is still in development.

We’ve shared the most important takeaways here, a video from the workshop as well as photos from the event. A big thank you to our facilitators and to BF+DA Director Deb Johnson. Futureworks Incubator is an NYCEDC initiative that’s designed and run by collaboration agency SecondMuse. Sign up for future workshops here, and join Futureworks on Instagram and Twitter.

Nine lessons on testing your product

  1. Your product is about your user. Suspend all of your own assumptions, and meet them in their context.
  2. The entry point to understanding users is understanding their culture. From there you’ll learn what their needs are and you’ll be able to create a product that is accessible and intuitive to them. – Abigail Edgecliff-Johnson
  3. When interviewing a user, let the conversation flow. Ask them open-ended questions, allow them to go on tangents, and see where they land. It’s all about what they’re saying, not what you say. You should be listening more than you are talking. – Brynna Tucker
  4. Make sure your prototype is interactive and test-friendly. The more realistic your prototype, the more accurately you can observe user behaviour during testing – Anna Mancusi
  5. Be willing to let your product go. Let users get their hands on it, let them break it! Put your product in front of as many people as possible, as early as possible. Especially target people who don’t care what you think. They’ll give you the most honest feedback. – Abigail
  6. Get feedback early so you can make key interactions or pivots before you go to market. This will save you precious time and money in the long run. A study by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers found that 50% of programming time is preventable with better research, and that product fixes are 100% more expensive after launch than when it is still in development. – Anna
  7. User feedback doesn’t go away when you have a hit product, in fact it becomes more important. You begin to understand how many different user groups there are and all the different features they want. – Leigh Christie
  8. Be extremely focused on user retention. Don’t abandon a profitable user group. If your user core group loves your product, change it slowly and subtly if it all. If you have another group of users that is interested in seeing major product changes, just create a new product for them. – Leigh
  9. Create loving feedback loops. Cherish and reward loyal users. Give the opportunities to tell their story or talk about why they love your product via social media. –  Leigh

Additional Resources:
Frameworks for Understanding Users
Circular Design Guide by Ellen MacArthur Foundation and IDEO
The Decision Making Unit by Bill Autlet at MIT

Empathy Mapping
Three Creativity Challenges by IDEO
How to Run an Empathy Mapping Workshop by Harry Brignull
Net Promoter Score to measure a company’s willingness to promote your product