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Validation as Key to the User-centric Approach

Maria Pretel
April 17, 2024

In the realm of product design and development, validation with real users is an essential component to ensure the success and effectiveness of any product. This process involves subjecting the product to practical tests conducted by end users, allowing valuable feedback to be obtained that is crucial for adjusting and improving the design, functionality, and usability of the product. In this article, we will examine how this approach contributes to the development of user-centered products.

Don Norman and the Psychology of Design

Don Norman has emphasized the importance of understanding user psychology in product design. In his book "The Design of Everyday Things," he argues that successful design must take into account how people interact with objects and how these interactions affect their experience.

When it comes to product validation, Norman emphasizes the need to observe and understand how real users interact with a product in real-world situations. By subjecting the product to the hands and minds of end users, designers can identify issues that they could not have foreseen simply through theory and internal planning.

https://www.nngroup.com/articles/design-thinking/

In his article "The Research-Practice Gap in HCI," Norman addresses the gap between academic research and practical application in the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). He highlights how usability testing with real users helps close this gap by aligning design goals with the needs and expectations of end users.

User-Centered Design and User Experience (UX)

Validating products with real users is a cornerstone of the User-Centered Design (UCD) approach. It recognizes the importance of understanding and anticipating user needs throughout all stages of the product design and development process.

In his book "About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design," Alan Cooper emphasizes the need for ongoing collaboration with users throughout the product lifecycle. Validation with real users aligns perfectly with this principle, as it provides opportunities for direct interaction and constant feedback.

ilustration of a woman and two people observing her interaction with a website and her feelings

User Experience (UX) is a critical area in product design, and validation with real users is essential for evaluating and improving UX. Jakob Nielsen, a usability expert and co-author of the book "Usability Engineering" advocates for the importance of usability testing with real users to ensure an effective and satisfactory user experience.

Adapting to User Diversity and Contexts

Another crucial aspect of validation with real users is the ability to adapt to the diversity of users and contexts. Products are often intended for a variety of audiences, and validation with real users helps ensure that the product is accessible and usable for a broad spectrum of users.

For example, Caroline Jarrett and Gerry Gaffney, in their book "Forms that Work: Designing Web Forms for Usability" explore how validation with users of different demographic profiles and skill levels is essential for creating effective web forms. This example illustrates how validation with real users contributes to the adaptability and usability of products in various usage scenarios.

Continuous Validation for Product Evolution

Validation with real users is not a one-time process; rather, it is a continuous cycle that accompanies the product throughout its lifecycle. Constant product evolution is at the heart of the agile methodology, and validation with real users is an integral component of this approach.

Continuous product evaluation is important as it allows for actionable feedback. Direct feedback from users and its subsequent analysis enables development teams to understand not only what works well but also to identify areas for improvement. This information is essential for effective iterations and continuous product evolution.

Female cartoon character programming mobile phone application.

Additionally, specific data on user preferences and perceived challenges can also be obtained. This benefits the current version of the product and establishes a solid foundation for future iterations and developments. Cumulative feedback from multiple validations contributes to a deeper understanding of user needs and helps build products that are truly useful and satisfactory.

Among other issues, validation plays a crucial role in reducing long-term risks and costs. By identifying problems and deficiencies in the early stages of development, significant investment of resources in a product that may not meet market expectations is avoided.

A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) may be insufficient to understand user needs. Validation with real users helps overcome this limitation by providing a deeper and more detailed understanding of user expectations and preferences, allowing for adjustments and improvements before and after launch.

Conclusions

In conclusion, validation with real users is not simply a step in the product development process, but an integral approach that drives the creation of user-centered products. By integrating user feedback at all stages of the product lifecycle, development teams can create more effective products tailored to user needs and capable of continuously evolving to remain relevant in a dynamic market.

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