What’s validation testing?

Bryce Thompson


In product development, what’s the difference between user testing and validation testing?Validation testing IS user testing right?Well in a product development cycle, ideas are cheap but they’re not cheap enough by the time the question of testing and decision-making comes up.Product designers have to:
• Establish a testing committee
• Secure a sizable testing budget
• Block off schedule pausing tactical design work
• Or alternatively hire a UX researcher to perform the testing
• Be extra rigorous and gather feedback from your internal teamBut what if you didn’t have to do all that?

A new method emerges 

What if you purely indexed on speed, value, and audience feedback when making a decision?What if testing were so accessible that it could help you make an important product decision in under a week, earlier in the product development life cycle?What if your designer is still designing while data is being collected around a user test?How about not having to hire a researcher to facilitate testing?What if your prototypes were so real-to-life that you could start to understand product market fit of several product directions? Not just one.

The huge unlock 

Yes, we’ve made prototypes and done user testing before and yes, they helped inform decision-making, but not like this.Not at small business scale, not at any kind of statistical significance, and it’s happening inside of the design ideation process where decisions are made.Not at the discovery phase or at the shipping phase.Because of Maze and Figma I have tested with THOUSANDS of users in the last 3 years helping my product managers make better, more informed decisions. Giving them stat sig data that they normally wouldn’t have. So validation testing is a form of user testing, but user testing is NOT always validation testing in the context of product-decisioning. It answers the question:“How do we know we’re building the most valuable thing?”Decisions need to be made fast, cheap, de-risked, and early on in the life cycle of a product.Above all, validation testing is driving value, but not necessarily usability or even NPS sometimes. We’re just trying to make a decision, not scorch the Earth with a team of researchers. If that sounds like you, let me know!