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A Field Trip for Product Managers: Feedback & Usability Techniques

February 3, 2015

3 minute read

There are many different ways to get feedback on your products. Usability testing is just one of them, and there are equally as many different techniques to do just that. Although this often conjures up ideas of expensive, time-consuming and challenging recruitment procedures, there are rough and ready options out there for usability testing.

It’s the assumption that these tests must be a huge undertaking that can prevent us from seeing what’s much more readily available underneath our noses. So for this exercise, we outline one of the most rough and ready – but effective – approaches to collecting feedback that you could start tomorrow.

Step 1: Identify your guinea pigs

Think about who you could speak to, and locations where you might find them in a reasonable vicinity from your office. Whether that’s students in a café or commuters on a train, think creatively about spaces and places in your users’ lives where you could easily go out and find them.

Step 2: Devise your tests

When you’re out in the field you need to be able to show participants your product and conduct your tests on a laptop or tablet. Plan out the questions you want to ask and practice with a colleague to make sure the whole thing takes no longer than about 20 minutes.

Step 3: Offer a simple but effective incentive

Adding an immediate incentive to recruit participants on the spot will go a long way to make your test more tempting, and make you seem more approachable. This doesn’t need to cost very much, but should be relevant. If you’re in a café, offer to buy the coffee and even the cake!

Step 4: Show, don’t tell!

Even though you might find yourself in more challenging surroundings for testing, don’t be tempted to slip into a comfortable conversation or simply pitch your product. Let it speak for itself and ask your pre-prepared questions, gently prompting when needed. Just because you’re out of the testing environment doesn’t mean that good usability principles go out the window.

Customer Feedback in ProdPad
Gather customer feedback and connect it to ideas in your product backlog

Step 5: Capture the customer feedback

At the end of any one of these sessions, you’ll walk away with at least a few tidbits of useful feedback. Capture these in your ProdPad account, and link them to the ideas and specs in your product backlog. After a while, you might start seeing common requests often popping up, or spotting trends in what problems people are looking to solve. Do a sense check to figure out if something should be added to your roadmap!

The Handy Guide for Product Managers

This exercise was taken from the Handy Guide for Product People. Sign up for a free trial and we’ll mail you a copy of your own, for plenty more tips and tricks for great product management.

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