Our bootcamp students are deep in prototype-test-iterate cycles for their second design project, and they’re asking a question that’s fairly universal for design-process learners: Do I have to test my prototype with the same users I designed it for?
The short answer is: Heck no!
It’s always best to get as far out of your own experience as possible when you’re looking for users, because outside your comfort zone is where you’ll find the deepest insights. But when it’s crunch time and you’re zooming through prototypes, don’t be constrained because you don’t feel like you have time to go back to users. Sure, your roommate, classmate, or those veteran user-testers otherwise known as d.school staffers can always test a prototype in a pinch, even if they’re not the Baby Boomer you’re designing for. But before you go that route, spend one minute brainstorming a quick way to get to your user group, or a good analogy for your user group. (The analogous testers can sometimes produce the most serendipitous results.) Even if time is so short you think you can only get one user, go get them! A tiny time investment in user-testing can pay massive innovation dividends.
(Pictured user tester: maureenhanratty)