Before you go out and start developing or even prototyping your idea you want to make sure the thing you're making will be beneficial to the people you're creating it for. People from all different disciplines and companies utilize this kind of research to make sure their products are easy to use and most importantly helpful to their target audience.
To make sure your vision of your project is on the right track, it can be helpful to speak tp people about it and hearing their thoughts and criticisms. When working individually or in a small group it can be easy to miss potential problems.
Finding five to eight people in your target audience (or even mentors and other participants) and speak to them about your idea. Along with listening to their thoughts and criticisms you can ask them questions about:
- If they've experienced the particular problem you're trying to solve?
- If they would find your project helpful?
- What they currently do in place of your solution?
By asking both people who aren't working in your team and people in your target audience you can gain useful insight into what you're trying to create and learn about potential problems you might've missed
Once you've talked with people about your idea and finalized what you want to create the next step is to prototype it! Prototyping allows you to create a basic mock of your project before you start development to work out any kinks and designs before you start coding. You can read all about prototyping in it's own section
Now that you have a basic mock-up of what you want to create it's time to get some user feedback. Just like with the Asking Questions section above, by going through your mock with people not affiliated with your team you can learn valuable insight into not only the problem you want to solve but also the general user experience of your project.
Depending on how you created your mock-up there will be different ways for people to test and use it. Nonetheless the process is the same:
Share your mock-up to people and let them explore and interact with the app or site on their own without any guidance.
Once the person is done exploring your mock-up it's time to hear about their experience, thoughts, and criticisms. It can be helpful to ask about:
- How was the experience going through the mock-up?
- If any part of the UX or interactions felt clunky?
- Was the design helpful in solving the problem or idea?
After hearing the participant's feedback it's time to apply the critiques and refine the design. When you and your group feel like you're at a point where your idea and design are rock solid then it's time to start developing!