Why We Don’t Do User Testing

If you work in Product Design, you would really have to have been living under a rock for the last 10 years to not have heard of the benefits of user testing a fair few times.

(Apologies to anyone that has been living under a rock for the last 10 years. That sounds really, really rubbish.)

I’m not even going to bother going into them. These guys, these guys & these guys have done a far more comprehensive, objective exploration of those benefits than I could come up with.

The reasons may be nuanced & the format of those user tests may vary, but I’m assuming you have a pretty good grasp on the general concept of user testing. Or, more simply, the practice of let’s-make-sure-we-actually-build-something-people-want-to-use-and-are-able-to-use.

(It seems completely bonkers to me that it was ever NOT like that. That a product team would just sit in a room with our egos, opinions & Barbara’s squeamish dislike of the colour purple & just come up with whatever we thought might work.)

Common Excuses For Not Running User Tests

So, here we are, in 2018, with most people in the design world thinking:

“That user testing stuff, pretty good isnt’ it? Saves us a lot of faffing around & wasting months polishing turds that will never leave the office.”

Yet, miraculously, it is still rarely used. And the excuses you tend to hear are just that: excuses.

“Oh, but we don’t have enough time to run user tests.”

“But it’s not clear there would be any value from it.”

“We don’t have any customers yet.”

“My dog ate the prototype.”

Not in my 5 years in product design, however, have I heard or even come across a justification that stands up to the core, underlying reason behind inaction in this space:

That, most people, at most companies, most of the time just do not give enough of a shit about the company or the success of the product to actually get out there & run a test.

Because most people feel unempowered, feel undervalued, feel like it’s hard enough to drag themselves into work every morning without having to track down users or random people off the street to test a product that they have no vested interest, no pride, no delight in pushing to users.

Some people’s average day at work They. Just. Don’t. Give. A. Shit.

Because if they did, they would not come up with excuses. Simple as that.

No time? Test it out on a couple of friends or colleagues over lunch.

Don’t think you’re gonna get value from user testing? If you really want the product to succeed, you’ll happily try, fail & try again to make that product as good as possible.

No customers? Grab people off the street (please not physically) and put the app into their hands. User personas are great, but random people are the next best thing if you don’t have them.

Dog ate your prototype? Don’t really know what to say to that one.

The Hard Truth

Don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of great people at great companies who do run user testing. And do love the company. And do really, really, really want the product to succeed.

But there are also A LOT of great people with no motivation, no purpose & no belief, working at shitty companies making shitty products.

And, if you are one of those people, you have one of two choices in front of you:

a) Happily carry on polish turds that users will never use or

b) Take a long, hard look at your life & consider whether you want to spend a lot of your precious time on this earth navigating bullshit office politics, building pointless products & dragging yourself to work every Monday morning.

(Psstt.. Go for Option B.)

Fast-Track Your Product Career

Get our free 7-day Mini MBA straight to your inbox:

Henry Latham

Henry Latham

Founder, Prod MBA

Read More