The most critical question when developing a new product is: will people actually want it?

There are two ways you can figure out if there will be demand for your product:

Waterfall approach

You can build and validate the idea at the final release. This is what most companies do which also explains why so many businesses fail. With this approach, you risk building the wrong thing that will result in poor adoption or complete rejection of your product.

Lean approach

You can validate individual hypotheses through experiments to de-risk and maximize your chance of a successful launch. By testing your business idea and gathering evidence, you can figure out whether people are willing to buy your product before you actually build it.

This lean approach was successfully introduced in Buffer, Dropbox, Airbnb, Zappos or Uber. Because of its apparent benefits, we also recommend this path to our clients – especially in innovative projects where there are many unknowns.

Validated learning

ux meeting cartoon about target group

You might be very confident about your idea, but you should validate (or reject) your assumptions with hard data. You can validate the following:

  • problem (is the problem worth solving?)
  • solution (does your product solve the problem?)
  • features (testing core features)
  • prices (testing price models)

There are experiments that can help you test your assumptions. They will help you gather insights that will allow you to move quickly and design your product effectively.

12 Ways to Validate

watercolor prototype wireframe closeup sketch

Different experiments will fit better different hypotheses. Here’s a list of 12 experiments you can run – with annotation what aspect of the product design you can test: problem, solution, features or pricing.

1) Picnic in the graveyard

Perfect to validate: Problem, Solution, Features, Pricing

This experiment is more focused on generating ideas than testing hypotheses but nonetheless is very useful. There is a very high chance that what you want to build already exists or has been tried… and failed. Investigate what didn’t work and think about how your product will be different.

A good starting point are websites that collect and analyze data on what kills promising companies. The Startup Cemetery is one of them.

2) User Interviews

Perfect to validate: Problem, Solution, Features, Pricing

Every great solution starts with understanding users and their needs, experiences, problems, habits and motivations. In-depth user insights will allow you to design solutions that are both useful and meaningful to your target group.

3) Comprehension test

Perfect to validate: Solution

This is a simple test that verifies whether users understand the value proposition of your product (what the product does and what value it brings). It helps you make sure your statement is clear and everybody understands the value proposition the way you intended.

Our previous webpage had a claim that said “Business First”. We did a simple comprehension test and it turned out that even our employees had differing opinions on what it stands for. We changed it without hesitation.

4) Sorting cards

Perfect to validate: Problem, Solution, Features

It is a great technique to design the architecture information of the app or website. Users are given a series of labelled cards and asked to organise and sort them into groups that make the most sense to them. Based on these insights, you can organize your content in an effective way.

5) Wireframes

Perfect to validate: Solution, Features

Wireframes are a low-fi representation of your idea. Because of their simplicity and raw form, they help you focus on core design decisions. You can identify potential problems and discover elements that are not intuitive.

6) App/Web Mockups

Perfect to validate: Solution, Features

Clickable mockups (prototypes) require no coding. These are a high-fidelity representation of your idea, meaning they look pretty much the same as the final product. They are helpful in checking user interactions with the interface.

7) MVP

Perfect to validate: Solution, Features

The difference between MVP and clickable mockups is that MVP is a working product that is ready for release. MVP focuses solely on key features and basic functionality since that’s what many successful companies start with (think Dropbox).

8) Concierge & Wizard of Oz

Perfect to Validate: Solution, Features, Pricing

The easiest way to prototype? Not to prototype at all! Concierge and Wizard of Oz are about manually performing the task and delivering the value without the tech. The difference between the two is that in Concierge the user is aware that there is a real human being behind the scenes, while in Wizard of Oz this is hidden from the user.

A good example is Ahoy, one of our previous clients. They developed a flight concierge app, but in the beginning, they validated the idea by manually performing the tasks for clients – without any advanced tech.

9) Landing Page

Perfect to Validate: Solution, Features, Pricing

A landing page is a great and easy way to check if there is some serious demand for our product (resulting in sign-ups, conversions, payments.) That’s what Buffer did. They put a simple landing page that implied that Buffer already existed. They included a plan and pricing page to checked how many people were ready to get Buffer (and pay for it). When people clicked on it, they were shown a newsletter sign up page with a short explanation that Buffer wasn’t quite ready yet.

10) A/B Testing

Perfect to Validate: Solution, Features, Pricing

The goal of A/B testing is to compare two versions to see what performs best and maximize the desired outcome. A/B testing can be applied to virtually anything: screen, copy, button, colors etc.

11) Co-creation

Perfect to Validate: Problem, Solution, Features, Pricing

Co-creation is about engaging someone from your network (partners, customers, experts) in the early stages of product creation. It allows you to discover market needs and insights from the inside out.

12) Crowdfunding & Pre sales

Perfect to Validate: Solution, Features, Pricing

Crowdfunding and presales are a great way to test whether people are actually willing to put money into your idea.

Let’s validate!

If you would like to validate your product idea before jumping into development, we are ready to help you. User interviews, wireframes, prototypes – that’s what we are good at.