Stage: Early Development vs. Late Development Testing
Early in development, as soon as there is a solid understanding of users, their tasks, and their work environments, sketches or prototypes of the new user interface are needed. Later in development designers will refine the user interface, taking it through high-fidelity wireframes, clickable prototypes, and a live, testable system.
The recommendations produced from different types of testing are customized to maximize the value that the client can reap. For example, early prototypes are easier to change so recommendations should be more fundamental in nature. If navigation, information architecture, and on-screen controls all need to be changed based on results from the users and our professional insights, those are appropriate recommendations for an early prototype. At the other extreme, a live system is more difficult to change. As a result, recommendations from usability testing must focus on the “low hanging fruit,” the things that are easiest to change but deliver the greatest usability improvements for the users.