The marketability of a product can be gauged in part by soliciting feedback from potential buyers during the product development phase. In order to learn what customers value most in a product, many groups turn to product testing techniques. Getting familiar with the various product testing methods can help you advance in your chosen field of product development.
This article will help you conduct effective testing at every stage of the product development process by defining product testing, outlining its significance, describing six common types of product testing, and providing tips for conducting these tests.
What is product testing?
In order to anticipate how consumers will interact with a product, product testing examines various aspects of the product’s concept, features, and functionality. It’s a normal step in developing software, and many businesses rely on this kind of testing to make and sell their products to customers. Whether a new feature on a mobile app can be used by users is the kind of question that often kicks off the testing process. After coming up with a hypothesis, the product team puts their theory to the test through one or more of the available testing procedures.
This testing could happen at a number of points in the process, depending on the methodology used by the product team. These frameworks are commonly used for testing products:
In the early stages of a project, teams employing a waterfall methodology frequently put their products through rigorous testing to determine whether or not they have commercial viability. After construction is complete, different types of testing are performed.
Agile: Teams are strongly encouraged to conduct continuous product testing throughout all stages of development, which is a hallmark of this methodology. Teams can use product testing to gauge the viability of proposed changes, check the workings of proposed features, and conduct ongoing reviews of the product even after it has been released.
Why is product testing important?
Project managers, developers, testers, and managers can all gain insight into the product’s success through testing it at various stages of the production process. Teams can use this kind of testing to see if a product works as intended or if customers will appreciate a new feature. For example, teams can benefit from product testing by:
Gain insights: This type of testing can help teams gain valuable insights about customers’ needs and preferences, which can provide direction during the development process.
Improve products: By gathering and reviewing feedback during development, teams can use this input to improve products to meet customers’ expectations and requirements.
Save time: Product testing can help teams save time during development by identifying potential problems or risks early in the development process, before launching the product to consumers.
Achieve business goals: Teams can use product testing to help them understand the priorities of the product so they can achieve key business goals, such as attracting more customers or increasing revenue.
6 Types of product testing
While the specifics of product testing will always be unique to the specifics of the project at hand, there are a few types of testing that hold true across sectors. With the help of some concrete examples, here are six of the most frequent varieties of product testing:
1. Concept testing
Testing the viability of a product concept and gauging how it might fare in the market is what product teams do during concept testing. Presentations, customer surveys, and wireframes (basic layouts for digital products like websites) are common tools for concept testing. By gauging how consumers react to a prototype, development teams can decide if they should move on to the next phase. It can also help define the product’s ideal set of capabilities or features.
In this case, a cereal brand wants to introduce a sugar-free variety to the market. The team developing the product decides to conduct a survey of current buyers to learn more about their opinions of the product and whether or not it could be profitable. The group contacts 500 clients via email, inquiring as to their favorite cereal brand and level of enthusiasm for a sugar-free variant. Customers have shown overwhelming interest in the concept, so the product team is already plotting the launch of the new cereal.
2. QA testing
Before a product is released to the general public, it undergoes quality assurance (QA) testing, which is typically carried out in a staged environment. In order to simulate real-world customer interactions, testing teams typically evaluate products in a variety of contexts. Also, before a product update or new feature is released to the public, QA testing may be used. Assuring the product functions as intended and allowing teams to spot issues before release is made possible with this type of product testing.
Here’s an illustration: a restaurant chain wants to update its mobile app with a map function so that diners can use their GPS devices to find a location. The software engineers build the feature and hand it off to quality assurance for inspection. Three distinct operating systems are used in the QA team’s examination of the map functionality, with additional testing conducted across several versions of each. After the QA team confirms that the new feature functions as intended, it is included in the following update.
3. A/B testing
Teams develop two iterations of a product feature or component and then survey buyers to determine which one performs better. Variants may differ in subtle ways, such as by using different color schemes for a website, or in more obvious ways, such as by using different product names. Teams frequently utilize A/B testing to select optimal designs based on user feedback. Furthermore, it can aid teams in gaining a deeper understanding of their customers’ wants and needs, which in turn can inform the development of better products.
As an illustration, let’s say a retail establishment decides to revamp its website in order to facilitate online shopping for its clientele. There will be two distinct “Shop Now” buttons on the website, both of which will be developed by the development team. The background of the first button is red, while that of the second button is black. The product team received both versions of the button and conducted A/B testing, discovering that the one with the black background received more clicks from website visitors. That button will appear on the company’s newly revamped website, they’ve decided.
4. Market testing
To gauge consumer interest, businesses often release a test version of their product to a small group of buyers. The product team could stagger the rollout across regions, or they could target a specific demographic (say, adults aged 18–35) for the initial rollout. Teams can learn more about their chances of commercial success through this type of product testing. Sales projections, ad strategies, and distribution channels are all improved with the help of market research.
A retailer, for instance, has announced their intention to introduce an athletic wear collection. The team behind the product has decided to put their new line through some preliminary market testing in order to gauge potential demand and predict future sales. For product testing, the team selects a select few dedicated consumers. The product team then analyzes the data to estimate future sales of the new products based on the opinions of the focus group.
5. User testing
After the product has been developed and released, it is ready for user testing. Customer behavior is analyzed as part of a team’s user testing process. Customers’ feedback is used to inform design decisions for subsequent product iterations. It’s a standard technique in the field of software engineering for figuring out if a new version is needed to better accommodate users or enhance their experience.
For illustration, say a software firm rolls out an update to a mobile photo app that adds the capability for users to send each other photos via instant message. Data collected from users over the course of two weeks shows that the new feature isn’t being utilized to the extent that was anticipated by the product team. The target audience is gathered by the product team for the purpose of testing. The team realizes that customers have trouble finding the sharing feature as a result of observing the focus group. Data is shared between the product and development teams, who then revamp the feature to make it more user-friendly.
6. Regression testing
After customers have started using the product, teams conduct this type of testing. Teams perform regression testing to evaluate the product’s current functionality and identify areas for improvement. Existing features may continue to operate normally, but teams can learn how the addition of new features affects the product’s usability and performance by conducting regression testing. If teams want to make sure the product still functions as expected after an update, they can perform regression testing.
As an illustration, suppose a development operations team is working on a new version of a mobile food delivery app that will allow customers to have two-way communication with the restaurant. Developers put time and effort into writing code for this new feature, so they naturally want to make sure it actually works. Regression testing is done on an older version of the product to see how it functions with the new feature activated. The development operations team has tested the update and determined that it is bug free, so they will be releasing it to the general public shortly.
Tips for product testing
Here are some tips to help your team conduct product testing during the development process:
Alternate your approach: In order to provide clear direction throughout all stages of development, it is helpful to use various product testing methods. Your team may use concept testing to find out if a product idea has any merit, A/B testing to evaluate the product’s design, and quality assurance testing to guarantee it works as promised.
Though it’s helpful to develop a hypothesis before testing a product, it’s important to avoid making assumptions about how customers will use or react to it. This frame of mind will help you make decisions that are in the best interests of your customers by critically evaluating data.
It is important to test products to find flaws and risks, but it is also beneficial to test products that have already been found to be successful in order to gain insight into what is already working. Gather this information through testing and incorporate it into the design of future products.