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Design Test
Design Test

Design Test: How to Ensure Your Product Shines

In the realm of market research, tools and methodologies are constantly evolving, becoming more refined to meet the ever-changing needs of businesses and consumers alike. One such tool that has garnered significant attention is the design test. By examining this fascinating aspect of market research, we can grasp its power to not just inform but transform business strategies and decisions.

Defining Design Testing

In its most straightforward definition, design testing is the process of evaluating and validating different design elements of a product, service, or marketing campaign before launching it publicly. It allows businesses to understand how users interact with and perceive these elements, ultimately guiding the design decisions.

The design elements that undergo testing can range from simple elements such as the color of a button on a website to complex ones like the layout of a mobile application or even the packaging of a product. Through design testing, businesses can assess whether these elements resonate with their target audience, are user-friendly, and whether they drive the desired outcome, such as a purchase, sign-up, or any other form of engagement.

Why is Design Testing Important?

Design testing holds a vital role in the overall scheme of market research for several reasons:

  • Risk Mitigation:
    Design testing reduces the risks associated with introducing a new product or service in the market. It can identify potential design flaws or issues that might negatively impact the user experience, allowing them to be corrected before launch.
  • Cost-effective:
    Identifying and rectifying design issues post-launch can be a costly affair. Design testing allows for identifying and fixing these issues beforehand, saving significant amounts of time and money.
  • Enhanced User Experience:
    By testing designs, businesses can ensure that their products or services are user-friendly and provide an enjoyable experience. This leads to increased user satisfaction, customer loyalty, and ultimately, business success.
  • Informed Decision-making:
    Design testing provides insights into users’ preferences and behaviors, aiding businesses in making informed design decisions. It helps align the design with the users’ needs, leading to increased engagement and conversion rates.
  • Competitive Advantage:
    An effective design can set a product or service apart from its competitors. Design testing can help businesses create unique, user-friendly, and engaging designs that give them a competitive edge.

Design Testing: A Key Component of Market Research

Design testing complements and enhances the effectiveness of market research. While market research provides insights into the market, customers, and competitors, design testing adds another layer of understanding by focusing on the user interaction with the product or service.

It provides actionable data that can be used to refine and optimize the design, making it more effective in meeting the goals of the business. Moreover, it puts the customers at the heart of the decision-making process, ensuring that their needs and preferences drive the design choices.

Design testing is a bridge connecting the data-driven insights of market research with the creative process of design. By integrating these two vital elements, businesses can create products, services, and marketing campaigns that not only meet market demand but also exceed customer expectations.

In the subsequent sections, we will explore the different types of design tests and how they can be conducted effectively. Stay tuned to discover how the magic of design testing unfolds in the arena of market research.

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Types of Design Tests in Market Research

Design testing in market research is not a monolithic approach but rather, a collection of diverse techniques, each with their unique strengths, purposes, and methodologies.

Common types of design tests

A/B Testing

One of the most widely used types of design testing is A/B testing, sometimes referred to as split testing. This method involves comparing two versions of a design element to see which performs better.

  • In A/B testing, two versions – A (the control) and B (the variant) – are tested against each other. The goal is to identify which version delivers the best results concerning a specific metric, such as click-through rates, conversion rates, time spent on a page, and more.
  • A/B testing is a powerful way to make data-backed decisions about design elements. It removes guesswork and allows for small, incremental changes that can significantly improve the effectiveness of a design.

Multivariate Testing

Multivariate testing is an advanced form of A/B testing that allows you to test multiple variables simultaneously.

  • Unlike A/B testing, where only one element is changed, multivariate testing involves changing multiple design elements and understanding the impact of each on the outcome. This method requires a larger sample size due to the complexity of the variables.
  • Multivariate testing allows you to understand how different design elements interact with each other. It can reveal intricate insights about the design and guide more complex design improvements.

Usability Testing

Usability testing focuses on evaluating a product or service’s usability, or in other words, how easy it is for users to use the product or service.

  • Usability testing involves observing users as they interact with a design. The users are usually asked to complete specific tasks while the researchers observe their interactions to identify any usability issues.
  • Usability testing is an essential part of design testing because it directly measures user experience. By identifying any obstacles or points of friction in the user journey, businesses can refine their designs to provide a smooth and enjoyable user experience.

User Experience (UX) Testing

User Experience (UX) testing is a holistic approach that considers all aspects of a user’s interaction with a company, its services, and its products.

  • UX testing uses various methods – including usability testing, interviews, surveys, and more – to understand users’ feelings, perceptions, and responses when interacting with a product or service.
  • UX testing provides comprehensive insights into how a user interacts with a product or service. It considers not only the usability but also the emotional responses, perceptions, and preferences of the user, allowing businesses to design experiences that delight their customers.
A/B Testing vs. Multivariate Testing for Design Optimization

A/B Testing vs. Multivariate Testing for Design Optimization – by NNgroup (2m:46s)

Conducting Design Tests

A theoretical understanding of design testing only paints half the picture. The other half is brought to life by the practical application of these tests.

Preparing for the Test

The first step of any design testing endeavor involves careful preparation. This includes:

  • Defining Objectives:
    Clearly define what you want to achieve with the test. The objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
  • Identifying Key Design Elements:
    Choose the design elements you want to test. These could range from color schemes and typography to layout and navigational elements.
  • Setting Key Metrics:
    Establish the metrics you’ll use to measure the success of the test. These could include click-through rates, conversion rates, time spent on a page, user satisfaction scores, etc.

Selecting the Right Test Type

Choosing the right type of test for your objectives is crucial. If you’re looking to test a single design element, A/B testing might be the best fit. If you’re interested in examining how multiple elements interact, consider multivariate testing. For usability or user experience insights, opt for usability or UX testing.

Implementing the Test

After preparation and selection comes the implementation. Here are some general steps involved:

  • Creating Variants: For A/B or multivariate testing, create the necessary design variants.
  • Setting Up the Test: Use a testing platform to set up your test. This could involve defining the audience segment, setting the duration of the test, and implementing the variants.
  • Running the Test: Launch your test and let your selected audience interact with your design variants. Ensure to run the test for an adequate amount of time to gather meaningful data.

Analyzing the Results

Once the test is complete, it’s time to dive into the results:

  • Data Analysis: Analyze the data collected during the test. Look for trends, significant differences between variants, and any unexpected results.
  • Interpreting the Findings: Interpret your findings in the context of your objectives and key metrics. What do your results mean? Did one variant outperform the others? Were there any surprises?
  • Making Design Decisions: Use your findings to inform your design decisions. This might involve choosing one design over another, making adjustments to a design, or deciding to conduct further testing.

Challenges and Solutions in Design Testing

Design testing, while instrumental in honing a business’s product or service, is not without its challenges. In this chapter, we will explore these potential roadblocks and propose practical solutions to ensure effective and efficient design testing.

Limited Resources

Conducting design tests requires time, money, and human resources. Small businesses or startups may find it difficult to allocate sufficient resources for comprehensive design testing.

Start small. A/B testing, for instance, can be conducted with relatively fewer resources. Also, many affordable online tools can assist with conducting and analyzing design tests. Investing in design testing at an early stage can save resources in the long run by preventing costly design missteps.

Insufficient Sample Size

For the results of design tests to be statistically significant, a sufficiently large sample size is needed. This can be particularly challenging for businesses with a smaller user base.

If your current user base is too small for meaningful design testing, consider using paid services that provide access to a broader pool of testers. Alternatively, you can opt for usability testing with a smaller group of users, which can still provide valuable insights.

Biases in Testing

Design tests can sometimes introduce biases, whether through the way the test is set up, the selection of the sample group, or the interpretation of the results.

Plan your design tests carefully to minimize bias. This includes randomizing the allocation of users to different design variants and ensuring that your sample group is representative of your overall user base. Also, be mindful of confirmation bias when interpreting results and be open to unexpected findings.

Interpreting the Data

Interpreting the results of design tests can be complex, especially with tests like multivariate testing where multiple variables interact in complex ways.

Use data visualization tools to aid in interpreting the results. If the data is too complex, consider seeking the help of a statistician or a data analyst. Remember, the objective of design testing is to inform design decisions, so understanding the results correctly is crucial.

Implementation of Changes

Based on the results of design tests, changes may need to be implemented. However, making these changes, especially for larger businesses with complex systems, can be challenging.

Involve relevant stakeholders, such as developers or designers, early in the design testing process to ensure that the proposed changes can be implemented. Also, prioritize changes based on their potential impact and the resources required for implementation.

How to Use Online Surveys in Design Testing

Online surveys have become an invaluable tool in the design testing process. As designers, we often find ourselves caught in the labyrinth of user needs, business goals, and design feasibility. Online surveys provide a straightforward and cost-effective method to gather user feedback, which can serve as a guiding compass through this maze.

Setting Goals

The first step in any successful survey is to know what you want to achieve. Whether you’re interested in validating design choices, collecting user preferences, or gathering general feedback about usability, defining clear objectives is crucial. The goals you set will influence every other aspect of the survey, including question formulation, audience targeting, and subsequent data analysis.

Choosing the Right Tool

There is no shortage of online survey platforms. When choosing a platform, consider its ease of use, data analytics capabilities, customization options, and your budget. The online survey tool you pick should align closely with your objectives and the skillset of your team.

Crafting the Survey

When designing the survey questions, there are several formats to consider. Multiple-choice questions are excellent for generating quantitative data and are quick to analyze. Open-ended questions yield qualitative data and allow for more nuanced responses. The Likert scale is helpful for gauging levels of satisfaction or agreement, and ranking questions can be effective for determining user preferences.

Data Analysis and Interpretation

Once the survey is complete, the next step is to analyze the data. For quantitative data, basic descriptive statistics like mean, median, and mode can give you a broad overview, while correlation analysis can reveal relationships between variables. Qualitative data require a different approach, where responses are categorized by assigning codes or tags, allowing themes and insights to emerge.

Real-World Examples of Successful Design Testing

To fully appreciate the impact and potential of design testing in market research, it is crucial to look at some real-world success stories.

Google’s ’50 Shades of Blue’

One of the most notable examples of design testing is Google’s ’50 Shades of Blue’ test. Back in 2009, Google couldn’t decide between two shades of blue to use for its ad links. To resolve the dilemma, they did what they do best: they turned to data.

  • The Test: Google used A/B testing to compare the two shades of blue. They showed one shade to half of their users and the other shade to the other half.
  • The Results: The data showed a clear winner. One shade of blue led to more clicks on the ads, which meant more revenue for Google.
  • The Impact: The winning shade of blue, though a seemingly minor change, led to an estimated increase of $200 million in annual revenue for Google.

This case study underscores the potential impact of even small design changes. It also exemplifies the power of A/B testing in informing design decisions.

The Obama Campaign

Another compelling example of design testing in action comes from Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.

  • The Test: The campaign’s digital team used A/B testing to optimize their website. They tested several design elements, including the call-to-action button text and the media on the donation page.
  • The Results: The testing revealed which design elements resonated most with the users. For instance, the call-to-action text “Learn More” outperformed other options, and a video on the donation page increased donations.
  • The Impact: The design changes implemented as a result of these tests led to a 40% increase in the site’s conversion rate. This boost in conversions translated to an additional $60 million in campaign donations.

This case study illustrates the effectiveness of A/B testing in optimizing web designs and the potential of design testing in driving significant outcomes.


The journey through the landscape of design testing reveals its profound significance in market research. It is an indispensable tool for businesses to understand their audiences better, refine their offerings, and ultimately drive growth. Design testing goes beyond mere aesthetics; it is the critical interplay between a brand and its customers, defining their engagement and shaping their experiences. Through rigorous A/B, multivariate, and usability testing, businesses can assess, validate, and iterate their designs based on real user data, ensuring designs that are not just visually appealing but also functional and user-centric.

In essence, design testing stands at the heart of market research, bridging the gap between businesses and their audiences, and shaping the path to success in the digital world. Embracing design testing is not merely an option, but a necessity for businesses aiming for enduring success in an increasingly competitive and user-centric digital landscape.

Learn about further Applications and Uses of Online Surveys


What is Design Testing in Market Research?

Design testing is a process where a product or service's design is evaluated by potential or actual users. This is done to gather data on the usability, functionality, and appeal of the design. The insights gleaned from design testing can guide businesses in refining their designs to better meet their users' needs and expectations.

What are the different types of Design Testing?

The main types of design testing include A/B testing, multivariate testing, and usability testing. A/B testing compares two versions of a design, multivariate testing assesses the impact of multiple design elements simultaneously, and usability testing involves observing users as they interact with a design.

Why is Design Testing important for businesses?

Design testing is crucial for businesses because it provides real user data to guide design decisions. This can help optimize user experience, drive user engagement, increase conversion rates, and reduce the risk of costly design missteps. In essence, design testing can lead to more effective and successful products or services.

What is the future of Design Testing?

The future of design testing is set to be shaped by advancements in AI, VR, AR, and biometrics. These technologies promise to offer deeper insights and more personalized experiences in design testing. Alongside this, an emphasis on ethical testing practices, including user consent, data privacy, and inclusivity, will become increasingly important.

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