How Can We Prepare Complex Products and Ensure That They Work?

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You’ve done your user research. You’ve mapped a user journey or two. You’ve built the perfect user personas that are so brilliantly detailed that the whole team can tell you the story of each and every target group. You’re certain that you know what your users want – there’s just one problem, what they want has never been done before and you’re not entirely certain it can be done. How can you test the feasibility of the project without pouring in millions (or even billions) into a dud project?

Start by Prototyping


Author/Copyright holder: Samuel Mann. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY 2.0


It’s always a good idea with really complex products to build a prototype. The joy of a prototype is that you can see your big, complex idea as a series of much less complicated steps. Your prototype should begin where the user begins and then follow a set of user journeys to their logical conclusion. From landing page to sale, from landing page to customer complaint, from landing page to quotation, etc.

The prototype then gives you a good idea of what’s needed and what’s truly new and what’s been done before.

Assume That What’s Been Done Before Can be Done Again

We know it’s possible to create a login process for a website. We know it’s possible to create a logout process too. We know that we can store passwords securely. We know that we can take an order too.

This is good because if we know something can be done; it’s not technically too complicated and we don’t need to worry about them as part of our examination of feasibility. If you’ve done it once, you can do it again.

Then Look at What You Haven’t Done

A good place to start might be to tackle the UI on the complicated stuff. Can you make that complexity sufficiently simple that your users want to engage with it? You can map these processes and build prototypes around them.

Once you’ve built your prototypes you can get your users to play with them and collect their feedback.



Author/Copyright holder: Rosenfeld Media. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY 2.0

Almost as importantly, this prototyping process will give you an insight into how much effort it’s going to take to turn the prototype into something real. If you work closely with your development team you can start to ask the question; “can we do this? If we can do this, how long will it take? How many bodies will we need to do it? Do we have the budget and resources for this? If we don’t can we get them?”

If the project is feasible that’s awesome. You can then work on winning sponsorship for the project. If it’s not, then you can revisit the problems with your users and perhaps come up with a less complex solution to their needs. You can’t win them all but you can save a lot of time and effort from being wasted by taking a simple approach to tackling feasibility issues as they arise.

Header Image: Author/Copyright Holder: photo fiddler. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY-SA 2.0

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Interaction Design Foundation - IxDF. (2016, April 2). How Can We Prepare Complex Products and Ensure That They Work?. Interaction Design Foundation - IxDF.

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