User Expectations Testing (UET)

It's always good to test your designs with your end users and there are lots of methods, tools, and techniques that you can use to do that like usability testing, first click test, etc. But how to do it at an early stage when a design is not ready or even when you are not sure what the solution should look like? For a similar use case, I came up with UET — User Expectation Testing, What does a user expect will happen if he clicks on this or what is next?

So, imagine you are a company that produces tomato ketchup. You go to the market and see 100s of bottles of tomato ketchup on the shelf, and you go there and ask a person buying, which one you will buy. Now there might be a few things that a user considers and tell you like, budget is a constraint so I will buy the cheaper one, or the bottle shape I like, or the brand, etc. But this won't help you to create the best ketchup, I mean you can take inputs for bottle design, cost to keep, etc. So at this moment what is more important for you is to know the expectation when a user eats your ketchup. What taste does he like? What they don’t like. Right now as you are in your research phase, you don't have a sample for them to taste. So you ask them their expectations, which will help you narrow down the ingredients that you can use to make your ketchup.

Disclaimer: I have not tested this on many things but did it once and worked out for me, would love to hear your thoughts on it.

What is UET?

User expectation testing is a qualitative technique that enables you to understand what a user is likely to expect next when they click on an action. The goal is to learn about users’ opinions and expectations to find things on the next screen or step and how a certain feature will work on the platform.

When to use UET?

  • When a user is familiar with the functionality, using competitor products, have used the same feature in past.
  • When you are still solutionizing a problem or not finalized the direction
  • When you want to know what is expected after the click and not where to click
  • You need a direction for thinking about the solution. You will know what they want, now how to design that is in your hands.

Outcome

By end of the session we get the following things:

  • Whats on the other side of the wall? What are user expectations of the product? How should the product react when they click on a button?
  • Reason: Why do they expect it to be there
  • What can be a better approach

How is it done

  • Show a screen to a user and ask if I as a user click on a button, what do you expect to happen e.g. “What do you expect to happen if you click on the checkout button on the screen?”
  • Users will answer (expectation) — e.g. “I think it will ask me to add my address and then make payment for the items selected.” This they will tell with their past experience or competitor workflow.
  • We can ask the user to explain the elements he expects to see or ask follow-up questions. e.g. “where do you think to apply coupon should come”

That's it. It's simple. Can be done with concept designs or wireframes. You don’t need much time to prepare for prototypes or scripts.

Try it out and do tell me your experience, If there is anything similar exists would love to hear from you.

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Prateek Gupta

Writer, artist, marathon runner, travel freak, comic fan and a gym addict. Currently working as Product Design Lead @ Flipkart