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IDEO’s Secret to Quick User Feedback


When you put a lot of smart people in a room together, something awesome is bound to happen. I’d like to take this moment to mark one of many awesome occurrences at Excelerate Labs this summer: IDEO visit number 1.

Top designers from IDEO are here for the 2nd year to help our companies focus on what matters most: the users. It’s clear that we have to know how our users think, and, especially, why they think that way, but they aren’t just going to tell us. Even if they do tell us, they’re not always right.

So, how do we find out? A design led approach helps you discover core values, connect with customers, and accelerate development. This is done in two phases:

  1. 1) Exploration phase: looking for insights, not just observations. Using core, analogous, and extreme research, companies are able to decipher what their users’ words actually mean, not just what they say. There’s a big difference between intent and actual behavior and this method helps distinguish the two.
  2. 2) Creation phase: a great experience will make your company, but a bad experience will break it. In this regard, designing the business model is essentially synonymous to designing the user experience. They are not mutually exclusive, in fact, they are one in the same.

Perhaps the largest takeaway from the IDEOers thus far is the importance of low fidelity prototypes. This is essential during the creation phase. These models can be crafted inexpensively and within minutes, often times as simple as a sketch on a napkin. Even so, they can ultimately tell more about user preferences than any high quality product. Utilizing multiple low fidelity prototypes can often give the greatest insight into what users actually want, not what they think they want.

Put three minimum viable products in front of your users and have them use their favorite; don’t build a high quality, expensive product only to find out later it is not at all what your users want. This way, your company can save time (and money), eliminate waste, and create the right solutions by fine tuning your focus early. As the IDEOers put it, in this industry, we must “build to know” and this is done by prototyping.

With one meeting down, it is now in the hands of the 10 Excelerate companies to schedule further sessions with IDEO, dig deep into their specific company, and work to build great designs together.

More awesome occurrences to come.

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