What Is Prototype Testing?

At a Glance

Prototype testing consists of sharing prototypes or wireframes with contributors to view on their desktop or mobile device to assess the viability of a design during the development cycle. Read more on how to get started.

Overview

Prototype testing with UserTesting

Getting started

Clickable prototypes and best practices

Learn More

Overview

Prototype testing is a great way to test a design or concept that is not finished. A fleshed-out, completely linked prototype is not necessary for testing. We suggest starting the testing as soon as you have a rough mock-up of an idea. Then continue to test as you revise your prototype. We find that getting user feedback early and often helps ensure a successful site or app launch.

Prototype Testing with UserTesting

Your prototype can range from a static image to a fully functional test app or site. Once you are ready to test, determine which research methodology will be best for your study.

Getting Started

You can share static images through the UserTesting Platform. To share higher-fidelity prototypes, consider programs like InVision or other prototype-hosting tools. If you build and host a prototype in your own environment, UserTesting can help you share it with study contributors. (Please keep in mind that your firewall may restrict contributors from viewing the prototype.)

Once your prototype is ready, place a link to it in the “Starting URL” field of the order form or within the first task of the test. We recommend that you use Dropbox to share static images on mobile devices as this hosting service does not require login credentials to view the file. 

If you are interested in testing static images for your prototype, you can add the image using an Image task found in the test plan building page in the UserTesting Platform. Image tasks are easy to add and the following files are accepted: PNG, JPG, GIF, TIFF, and PDF. Files are limited to a max file size of 5MB.

Clickable Prototypes and Best Practices

If you are using a clickable prototype, it is easy to get feedback from contributors. UserTesting supports a broad range of prototyping tools. Simply extract the URL to be shared from your prototyping tool of choice and include it as the starting URL for your test. Or insert it into a URL task within your test.

Best Practices for Conducting a Clickable Prototype Test

Some tips to consider when using a clickable prototype:

  • Turn off hotspot hinting as you don’t want to bias contributors by showing them where to click. 
  • Share the public-facing sharing link, because if contributors can’t reach your prototype, your test will likely go on hold.
  • Make sure to tell contributors they are working on a prototype and that everything might not be functional. You don’t want them to spend much time giving feedback about the functionality of the prototype.
  • Give clear instructions when you want contributors to click on something and when you simply want them to respond where they expect to click. 
  • Test the experience, completing a dry run and pilot so as to affirm you're getting the feedback you need to answer your research objectives.
  • Consider the size of your prototypes. We recommend you produce a prototype specific for each device you would like to test with (desktop, tablet, and mobile). A lot of design programs that you can test with us (e.g., Figma, XD, Sketch) can be set to "scale" the prototype to fit the browser width. This functionality can sometimes make elements appear bigger or smaller than intended depending on the browser size. If you are specifying that a contributor uses their mobile device for example, show them a mobile version of your designs. A scaled-down desktop version on mobile isn’t great for feedback. 

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