Yesterday I went to a meeting to learn about new regulations for a grant I am writing. There is a substantially new financial reporting form, and within minutes of reading it, many of the attendees had questions about what information was needed. The administrator did not know the answers; the financial reviewer was not available, and we left the meeting with more questions than answers.

I think of how many times we are all guilty of preparing a new form or policy that makes perfect sense to us but ends up being confusing for the user. Wouldn’t we be better off if we made it a part of the process to test our products or process with those who will be using it before implementing them?

Prototyping is precisely the final stage in Human-Centered Design, where a model or draft of your concept is shared with those who will be engaged in the solution. The goal is to get feedback from the end users early in the process to reduce your risk, learn what is/isn’t working, and make iterations to change the design for the better.

It may feel like it takes more time to prototype and field test, but in the end, you’ll save yourself time and gain allies as you create a better process. What idea do you have that needs to go out for a test run before it’s final?

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