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Synopsis

How to know if an idea is worth pursuing? Companies need tried-and-true ways to discover the next big idea that will disrupt their industry. We've created this Idea Testing template that includes tools such as: Smokescreen Wizard of Oz, multivariate test, phased rollout, longitudinal studies, and many more that can be downloaded and customized to different business scenarios. Let's review how these tools work, and how each one can provide a framework for brainstorming and testing new ideas.

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Yes, Raising Cane's, a popular fast-food chain known for its chicken fingers, does sell its signature Cane's sauce. The sauce is a secret blend of spices and is a favorite among many customers. It can be purchased separately in some locations.

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Dogfooding

Before the iPhone keyboard design became something billions of people use every day, Apple employees first tested the waters. They used it in their daily lives as if they were real life users.

Dogfooding is a way to test ideas with internal team members. Get honest feedback quickly from your own employees first, so you know if you're on the right track. This word cloud represents employees' responses to an idea or prototype. Compile these adjectives to see what people are saying at a glance. The bigger the word, the more common the sentiment. (Slide 18)

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Wizard of Oz

How can you gauge user opinion on a new product, without spending resources to build the whole thing? With the Wizard of Oz tool, create a mockup of how a product or feature would function, BUT without any real technical input. Think of it as a facade.

On the left here is the mock-up; on the right are the findings. For example, see what potential customers think of chatbot responses, without actually programming the bot. In this case, a team member would respond to customer inquiries manually, pretending to be the bot. (Slide 11)

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Multivariate test

Sometimes it pays to test multiple solutions at once. Use the Multivariate Test tool to neatly structure the performance of different product iterations. Before starting the experiment, make sure to identify what metrics you want to measure. These are the numbers that will determine which idea is the winner. (Slide 7)

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First, list the control of the experiment. This is the current version that customers have been seeing. Then, list the variations you're testing. In most cases, it'd help to add a picture of what the variation looks like. At the end of the experiment, calculate if the solution actually increased the performance. Note the improvement, or the lack of, in the boxes on the right. Then, simply pick a winner to proceed.

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Phased rollouts

Imagine this: you're about to launch a new product feature. You give every user access, all at once. What if something goes wrong? In most cases, it's not a question of "if" but "when". Unfortunately, something will probably go wrong. Worst case scenario? You release a bad, unreliable product to every one of your customers. They flee to your competitors.

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Companies will often test a new launch via a Phased Rollout. Just dip your toe in, and feel for any unforeseen mistakes or bugs. Break down the rollout into phases and what percentage of the users will receive the new release at what phase. If all goes well, then proceed to the next phase. Otherwise, fix any hiccups before rolling out to more users. In this example, the rollout is in phase six, with 50% of the user base already receiving it. At the button, highlight success metrics such as adoption rate and crash-free sessions. (Slide 9)

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Usability tests

One of the most commonly used methods in digital product development is the Usability Test tool, which assesses how different subjects perform given tasks. Use this tool to see how intuitive your products are. You may design a customer journey for your new app. How smooth do people find each step of the experience?

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Subjects are scored from one to three on a list of tasks they're given. Use these results to get a total usability score for each subject. If you're a social media company, examples might be uploading an image, or sharing a post with a friend. Usually, usability tests are most effective with five subjects. After that, there tend to be diminishing returns. (Slide 21)

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System usability scale (SUS)

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Similarly, the System Usability Scale, or SUS, obtains individual responses to survey questions. It then uses these responses to calculate a total usability score for each question. (Slides 22-23)

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Where the previous tool tracked the performance of tasks, this one documents user sentiment about overall usability. If the last tool revealed how easily subjects performed tasks, this tool will tell you how they feel about those tasks.

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Longitudinal studies

The Longitudinal Study tool is used for qualitative observation of customer behavior or sentiment. Where other tools in this presentation are best for making sense of metrics like number of click-throughs, this tool is used to add context to such data. In other words, adding the "why".

Also known as a diary study, longitudinal studies are great for tracking the intention and meaning of user behavior in their natural environments across time. Because these tests usually take longer to plan and execute, it's helpful to have a timeline that everyone can follow - all the way from initial planning, to the actual logging process, and through the post-study interview. (Slide 19)

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