This step occurs at the Feature level within the Program segment. This validation is an essential step at this phase of the process to ensure that adjustments are identified here, where the cost is relatively low.
The goal of validation is to determine whether a Feature as it has been defined fares on the following criteria:
- Learnability: How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the first time they come across the design?
- Efficiency: Once users have learned the design, how quickly can they perform tasks?
- Memorability: When users return to the design after a period of not using it, how easily can they reestablish proficiency?
- Errors: How many errors do users make, how severe are these errors, and how easily can they recover from the errors?
- Satisfaction: How pleasant is it to use the design?
The first step for an organization is to develop a validation plan. This validation plan will outline the subject, approach, and goals for the validation session. The plan should cover the following items:
- Test objectives: The plan should clearly define what the end goal of the validation session is.
- Subject of the test: The plan will outline exactly what is being defined and what state it is currently in. It will detail what medium will be used for the validation (wireframe, prototype, paper prototype).
- Methodology: The plan should detail the methodology that will be used for validation.
- Participants and recruiting: The plan should identify the individual(s) responsible for recruiting as well as criteria for participants in the session.
- Tasks: The plan will detail each task that the participants will be asked to perform and evaluate. For workflow validations, this may also be a tree-based list.
- Usability goals: The plan will also detail criteria for success. This can take the form of a desired completion rate or a percentage of sessions which were error free.
For an organization adopting this process for the first time, this may take additional time. For follow-on validation sessions for the same product, the time will be reduced.
There at least three roles defined for the validation process. As a part of the validation plan, individuals should be identified for each of these roles:
- Recruiter: The recruiter has the responsibility of identifying target users and managing the schedule of validation sessions.
- Facilitator: The facilitator will drive the session with a target user. They will guide the user through the tasks and solicit feedback from them during the session. The facilitator will document findings during the session, but their primary responsibility is to focus on the flow of the validation session.
- Observer: The observer will be the primary documenter during the session. This individual may ask questions as well.
Feedback should be gathered from both the facilitator and observer and combined into a document detailing the validation learnings. This document should include:
- For each participant:
- The participant’s reaction to each task in the process
- The time required to complete each task
- A note for each task indicating if the participant was able to complete the task
- If there was any terminology that the user had a question about or that they user clearly misunderstood, there should be notes detailing the stumbling blocks
- Each issue should be documented and a severity assigned to it:
- High-severity issues: an issue that prevents the user from completing the task
- Moderate-severity issues: an issue that causes some difficulty, but the user can ultimately complete the task
- Low-severity issues: a minor problem that doesn’t affect the user’s ability to complete the task
- Summary of all participants
- A listing of all issues that occurred across multiple participants. Each item should contain a percentage of sessions in which it occurred.