User testing can be used to eliminate your assumptions and build products that are user-driven. Therefore, this article is about building products for your users, and not for yourself. It is for those readers, who rely on their assumptions about user behavior when they design usability for their digital products. Why? Because developing digital products on the basis of your own usability assumptions is a battle destined to be lost.

At Preely we are fighting for better digital products, and one way we do this is to challenge assumptions through user testing. In this article, I would like to talk a bit about you why. But first, here is a bit of background on assumptions, and why they actually are great to have.

What are assumptions and why they are actually great!

Assumptions are great, because they allow us to easily navigate the world, and make qualified decisions without efforts.

Assumptions can be defined as "a willingness to accept something as true without question or proof" (Cambridge English Dictionary). These are the things that we consider to be true, and also true for everybody else. Assumptions are built on our previous experiences and naturally develops over time.

In most cases, we are not aware of our own assumptions, which over time becomes "evident" truths. These truths become so every day, that they eventually disappear from our conscious mind.

Assumptions are important to have because they assist us in navigating the world in all of its aspects. In UX design, they provide workable directions and help us to define early frameworks for our products. In short, they allow you to make qualified guesses about user behavior and how you should design your product.

Without assumptions, you would basically be blind and have to relearn everything over and over again.

Why assumptions can be dangerous for usability

Okay, so assumptions can actually be quite helpful in making qualified guesses about users. However, imagine what happens when some (or all) of these assumptions about user behavior are wrong!

Maybe you believe to have identified and solved every possible flaw in your product, but until you perform an actual test, you will just be guessing about how users will use and interact with your product.

Here is a bit of psychology for you: not everybody perceives the world in the same way.

And if the first feedback you get from actual users is when you actually launch, you might experience some big flaws that will cost you money and time to fix. It might even lead you to lose your earliest and valuable customers.

Not to mention the emotional costs of having spent days, weeks or months crafting that perfect design, and to realize you have to do it all over again.

Conduct user testing to eliminate or affirm your assumptions

Luckily, there is something you can do to avoid this nightmare and challenge your assumptions - you probably guessed it already - it is to test your design on users before you launch.

Here is an excellent and practical example: How Bolighed.dk challenges assumptions and builds better products.

You can even start testing your designs on users early in the development process. This is really helpful to understand if you are working in the right direction, and it is a crucial step for working iteratively.

Therefore, in the pre-design phase, and this is where UX reigns, you should test your early prototypes on real users.

Every time you perform a test on a user, you will either validate or eliminate your initial assumptions to some extent.

It is a great way to improve your digital solution - step by step iteratively. The more tests you create, the more user-driven will your product be in the end, and the less will it be based on (likely) wrong assumptions in the end.

Wrap-up - start building for your users, not for yourself

Assumptions are , and they are necessary for every UXer to have. However, basing too many decisions in regards to design and usability, on assumptions, might be very dangerous.

People don’t perceive the world equally. That’s why you need to test your assumptions against real users. If you don’t, you might end up building something for yourself, and not something that your users find fantastic.

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TestLab is now Preely!
As we strengthen and expand our platform, we have changed our name to Preely. Testing remains at the heart of what we do, and we're happy to continue providing our service in 2018.
Happy testing!
Team Preely
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