You have to experiment, test, validate hypotheses all the time in the phygital world. The flexibility of digital allows for the redesign and refactory of products and services, promoting a kind of continuous maturation of people’s experiences.
In this document we present some principles for conducting experience tests with people who use or will use innovative products and services.
how will the test be done
The main procedures adopted in tests of experience with products or services involve observing people and/or interviewing them.
In the products or services of the phygital world, observing people involves at least two different situations: the experience in physical spaces and the experience in digital artifacts, being increasingly common, the two experiences occur simultaneously.
The observation of the experience can be direct, when people are observed when they are experiencing products or services, or indirect, when the actions in the physical space are filmed and the actions carried out on the digital artifacts recorded to be replicated during the analysis.
Interviews can take place before the beginning of the experience, when asked about expectations, desires, doubts. During the experience, when asked about the decisions made by people with each action taken. After the experiment is completed when one asks the person’s impressions of the experiment. These interviews can be carried out directly by the mediators or through online forms that are filled out by the users.
who will participate in the tests?
In experiment tests we have at least two groups of people, those who apply the tests and those for whom the tests are applied. This number may increase depending on the complexity of the tests, for example, in some cases a third group analyzes the results of the tests.
Even in situations where tests use digital systems to record actions or digital forms for interviews, a fourth group of people who program digital artifacts for such purposes may be necessary.
The clear definition of people and their roles in an experiment test is essential and needs to be revisited with each new test cycle. At the very least, the people for whom the tests are applied, users change, but often, applicators and analysts also change.
In any case, normally, the most difficult group to define is that of users. It is necessary to consider and describe issues such as social class, training, age group, gender, level of experience with the product or service being tested and the representativeness of each profile in relation to the total group of users.
This information will be essential to analyze the results of the tests and the impact on the decisions to be made in relation to the products and services.
when will the tests be aplied?
Once the procedures and the people are defined, it is time to define the time. In experience tests, including in the phygital world, experience tests can occur in synchronous or asynchronous times.
Synchronous time is usually dedicated to observing users by performing actions directly. Defining when these actions will be carried out is essential to plan the best way to observe and record the observed data. It is also in synchronous time that interviews are conducted by mediators with users.
Asynchronous time is almost always dedicated to the analysis of results or to interviews carried out using digital forms. Here too, the definition of the actions that will be performed asynchronously is essential for the planning of the test.
A time plan in an experiment test can be represented by a list of actions with their respective predicted start and end times with the statement of what type of time we are dealing with, the synchronous time or the asynchronous time for each action.
These time plans need to be redone at each test cycle, and analyzed at the end of each cycle so that the experiment test team learns from the time differences, the actual experiment times.
where wil the test be done?
Space is, in addition to time, a variable that has a direct impact on experiences. A test performed in a laboratory [simulated space] is completely different from a test performed in loco [real space].
The definition of the test spaces involves choosing the physical places where people will be during the application of the tests and the virtual environments where part of the experiences will occur during the tests.
In the phygital world, a good part of the experience tests will need to be carried out in hybrid spaces, partly in the physical world and partly in digital environments.
Physical spaces, despite being better known by people in general, have a great impact on the experience and need to be carefully evaluated. For example, testing an online shopping service from your home is completely different from testing the same service in a physical store, with the help of people who work at the store.
In the same way, virtual environments interfere with the experience. For example, it is one thing to test an online shopping application on your smartphone and quite another to test it on a desktop simulator.
what needs to be asked in the test?
The essence of experience testing is to answer questions about the relationship between people and products or services. It is these questions that guide the evolution of what is being tested, at least in theory, that improve the experiences.
Defining the right questions is not trivial as it is linked to the context. Each tested product or service and each group of people, times and spaces will imply a different set of questions.
A general guide of question classes can help to define them, but it will never be exhaustive.
The first class of questions seeks to find out if users understand what the tested products and services are for and what they are for. Then, a second class of questions should provide an understanding of whether people are able to properly use the tested products and services.
A third class evaluates how much people enjoy the experience. The fourth and final class of questions asks how proud people would be to use the tested products and services.
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This text was written by the professors Silvio Meira and André Neves.
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