Insights (from hypotheses to concepts, Brainstorming & MindMapping, Redlines, MVP)

The hypothesis in the User Experience design process is one of the most interesting and at the same time one of the most difficult steps.

We would love to tell you more about creating, validating and using hypotheses while launching a full life-cycle product development. Especially it will be useful for you if you are going to make your own business. Creation of hypotheses for startup and its minimum viable product (prototype)- is the best way for testing your ideas.

There are a lot of methods to build a hypothesis. And even more to write or to draw the way of designer's thinking path (see the design thinking theory and its tools for more details). We recommend you to read the article of Christina Wodtke at Medium about it (1).  But how to do that? Is there any plan for building a hypothesis? We will create it right now.

About the nature and function of the hypothesis

In business dictionary we will find following explanation:

A supposition or explanation (theory) that is provisionally accepted in order to interpret certain events or phenomena, and to provide guidance for further investigation. A hypothesis may be proven correct or wrong and must be capable of refutation. If it remains unrefuted by facts, it is said to be verified or corroborated.(2)


The hypothesis is used in a variety of disciplines as politics, economy, business and everyday life. For example, you are going to a football match and you are checking the weather - you need to know which clothes to choose for today. In the moment you check the weather on your smartphone - you are validating the hypothesis of rain. Deep in your brain, you build a hypothesis about rain and umbrella. It looks like a construction

IF there is a rain I should take an umbrella.

So, your user experience of walking outside suggested this hypothesis for you. Probably you have been under the rain without an umbrella at least once in your life. That is why the process of hypothesis runs automatically in your brain.

The hypothesis is used in design to find our approach/motivation/action priority of a customer and to add some variety to the red road of the user. You can read more about a solution hypothesis format, that was established for a team of Maximilian Wambach in Novartis_DE (3).

If you want to make a service or product that will be human-centered and easy to use - you can use the hypothesis to check every function and feature that you are going to create.

Short facts about hypothesis

Hypothesis:

  • is an explanation for activity.
  • is a logical sequence.
  • has the condition and its result.
  • should be tested.

The Hypothesis should have the specific decisions, help our character (not all the people) and of course, it should be tested.

Hypothesis in design process

Let's imagine that we are creating an online bookshop. First of all, we need to create a character - our ideal customer for whom we are making a site. In our blog, you can find details about creating persona or character.  Picture him in front of a computer. What will he do first? We should give our character some goal or problem to solve, otherwise, he will close the window of our bookshop website and write on twitter that he is dramatically bored. At this stage, we are starting to build a hypothesis.

Plan of building a hypothesis

1) Give a goal to a character.

The goal is - to buy a book. But which book? We need to have some background info about our character to make a logical and true hypothesis. That is why creating personas matter so much. So we are opening our files with persona and find out that our character is most interested in business literature, especially marketing and psychology. That is why a goal for your character will be well customized and we will have a chance to be true to life. The goal is not just to buy any book, it is to buy namely a book about the marketing strategy for the business.

Many designers are using Mind Mapping for building right and relevant conditions. Mind Map is needed also for planning and verifying the next steps of our character. We give him a goal to buy a book about marketing and we know that he is interested in business literature. He is in front of a computer right now and he is going to buy a book. But what will he do exactly?


2) Add detailed conditions

Conditions are making sense in the hypothesis. Magic word “if” drives us to imagine different paths of our customer. Now we will add a detailed condition to our first hypothesis. If the user does not know which book he exactly needs - he will watch all positions till he finds the most suitable book. Logically he will choose category “business”. If a customer knows the name of the book he will use an alphabetical filter of book`s name or if the user wants to find a specific author - he will use an alphabetical filter of author`s name or surname.


3) Add confusions and errors

The best way to avoid confusion and error is to add confusion hypothesis and test it. For example user can be so excited while searching a right book that he can do some mistakes - a name of author “Jard” and miss the letter “e”. So we should make an automatic helper with suggestion “did you mean “Jared”? It will help the user and minimize the risk of “no results”.


4) Do many

Really, do as many hypotheses as you can - it will make a full picture of future user experience. This is wizardry of reading thoughts of the user. But most important is quality and logical power of hypothesis. It is better to make 10 realistic assumptions than 100 of those detached from the truth of life.


5) And while launching MVP

The biggest number of hypotheses is created while the designer is making a prototype or minimum viable product. Clickable MVP prototype is a powerful instrument to test and proof all hypotheses.


6) be like actors

Keep in mind the proposed circumstances of place, time, action like actors do while playing in the theatre. To do the role well they think like character and act according to the data of drama play - place, time, action. This theater lesson can teach us a lot. When you are trying to make an experience as real as possible in prototype - you should be an actor as well. Think which actions could interrupt your user? How timeline affects his decision? How place/country can promote or restrict user actions? And so on.

How to test Hypothesis: HADI

There is a scientific approach to test Hypothesis and a full cycle of creating and testing looks like:

  • Make observations and formulate a hypothesis
  • Design an experiment to test the hypothesis
  • State the indicators to evaluate if the experiment has succeeded
  • Conduct the experiment
  • Evaluate the results of the experimentAccept or reject the hypothesis
  • Accept or reject the hypothesis
  • If necessary, make a test of a new hypothesis(4)

So designers are using the HADI cycle, that is similar to the scientific approach and let us get the same reliable result of testing.

HADI cycle consists of steps:

  • Hypothesis (pick a KPI, make an assumption)
  • Action (make an experiment)
  • Data (What do we observe while making experiment)
  • Insight (logical conclusions)

Actually, the hypothesis is a problem-solving method that can minimise “oops!” and “error” of your future software. Every “oops” is a result of a missed hypothesis.  Brainstorming with your team will make hypothesis more realistic and with a solid background. Also when the team works together - results will be more solid and reliable.  It is one of most powerful methods to check your MVP before launching full life cycle development process.


The next article will be about Elements of Omni-Channel User Experiences, stay with us to learn more about User Experience!


References:

  1. Christina Wodtke. How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Design Thinking. More detail here: https://medium.com/@cwodtke?source=post_header_lockup
  2. BusinessDictionary. Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/hypothesis.html
  3. Maximilian Wambach. Hypothesis driven UX design. More info here: https://medium.theuxblog.com/hypotheses-driven-ux-design-c75fbf3ce7c
  4. Alexander Shukhanov. Hypothesis Action Data Insight cycles, Lean Startup. More details here: https://www.slideshare.net/alexandersukhanov/hypothesis-action-data-insight-cycles-lean-startup