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Customer Experience and Design

UX Prototyping: Failing Early vs. Succeeding Sooner

I’m not sure who came up with the “Fail Early” concept associated with rapid prototyping. It seems like a negative sale or a glass-half-empty approach. I can’t help but think it would be easier to sell stakeholders on a program that is geared to “succeed sooner,” rather than “fail early.” It might just be semantics, but depending on the size of risk associated with a project, promoting success might be the key to more stakeholder support.

Use UX research to succeed sooner

It can be said that finding where to go for success is more important than knowing where not to go for failure. Just because you know where something isn’t doesn’t mean you know where it is. With early adoption of user experience (UX) research in a project, stakeholders can find out sooner where to focus their precious resources. “Sooner” success because of UX research can build confidence and lead to a greater UX involvement. The bigger goal is to succeed sooner, rather than to fail sooner.
Every process that your UX team engages in is geared toward providing successful insight to guide your decision-making process. When testing rapidly prototyped wireframes with users, researchers can deliver the most value by clarifying what is working for users and why. Granted, you will also learn what isn’t working and why, but the focus is on delivering next-step insights on where to go for success. Exceptional research is designed to illuminate the path to success. A UX strategy that is more focused on what to pursue for success is easier for stakeholders to embrace than a strategy of what to no longer do.

Let user intent be your guide

One strategy to employ would be to design questions and tasks to learn more about user intent, rather than product failures. Moderated sessions of users and researchers together provide a greater chance of capturing insights of user intent. Researchers skilled in probing into user intent through natural conversation is one such approach. Asking users for elaboration on their intent in a conversational manner also provides researchers with the ability to discover insights that they might not have considered. It’s much like a UX survey that provides users with open field text boxes, rather than only predetermined answer options. Although you lose some control over analyzing the answers of all respondents, you gain the ability of discovery.
UX researchers understand the benefits of partnering with stakeholders for their success. Our path to this success is keeping users involved in the development process from start to finish. I guess the elephant in the room is that there isn’t a single user who isn’t willing to share with researchers what would make a product better for them.
What Olympic athlete visualizes what failure looks like so they can stay away from it? No, they visualize what winning looks like so they can win.

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