Iterative Usability: Get Results and Have Fun Doing It

I love a rapid iterative approach to usability testing because it boosts team communication and cohesion, pairs well with Lean and Agile project cycles, and, above all, is a fun way to make leaps and bounds towards a better product user experience.

The best part of the rapid iterative approach is that it sharpens the product team’s focus on cooperative and objective problem solving rooted in empathy for the user. This happens because the team shares the experience of witnessing real users encounter fixable difficulties and is then tasked with solving for those difficulties in a limited amount of time. Team members quickly empathize with the user, start prioritizing the biggest difficulties, learn to work together, and feel invested in implementing solutions.

There are many flavors of this concept depending on the approach taken. Whether you call it the RITE (Rapid Iterative Testing and Evaluation) Method, iterative usability, Agile UX, or any one of the other names floating around in the ether, the key elements are the same:

1. Start with a design (any interface is fair game)
2. Run a few (1-5) usability sessions with users with as much of the project team observing as possible
3. Come together as a team to quickly assess results and agree on solutions to observed issues
4. Redesign to implement solutions (spend no more than a day on team discussion and redesign)
5. Retest to see if solutions worked and to discover any additional issues
6. Repeat

The more subject matter experts and team members observing sessions, the richer the outcome; not only do you get the varied expertise and perspectives a more diverse audience brings, you waste little time bringing everyone up to speed so they can weigh in on solutions.

Because it is highly collaborative and necessitates tight turnaround, adding a rapid and iterative spin on the traditional sequence of design and user feedback results in less time and effort spent during the product development cycle.


By: Kasia Sinczak

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Contributed by:
Kasia Sinczak Senior Experience Researcher

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