Joe Dawson

Joe is the director of Creative.onl and oversees all of the design and technical work that we produce. Find him on Twitter.

It’s a given that if you are going to the trouble of creating a new website or mobile app, you should then test it at various stages of the production process, to see if it meets the original brief. 

But what about your design? How important is it to test design to ensure that it is also delivering on the brief? And how exactly do you go about doing that testing? 

Why is it important to test your design?

Good design costs. And so it should.  

A reflection of the time it takes to become a skilled web designer; mobile app designer or graphic designer, when it comes to commissioning a great piece of work, design should be considered an integral part of the whole process. 

We're here to listen and guide you

Get a personalised report for your creative project, with expert recommendations to make you successful.

Get free advice →

But how do you know if your design is effective? Isn’t design more subjective than say web development? And more personal? 

Is it ok, as a client, to say you don’t like a design, without fear of hurting a designer’s feelings?!

(Yes, of course!).

Doesn’t testing challenge the role of the designer? 

Testing your design should be done with the intention of informing the design process – rather than any concern about challenging the designer.

An effective design will help meet the client brief. And when it comes to creating products such as websites and mobile apps, great design will help influence the desired pathways chosen by the user, such as signing up to a mailing list or completing an in-app purchase.

Effective design also goes beyond the look and feel of a product. It also incorporates, for example, establishing necessary processes such as design systems, which are essentially a comprehensive set of easily repeated elements and concrete guidelines that should make the implementation of any new project within your business simple and efficient.

What are the benefits of testing your design? 

Testing a design can help eliminate personal bias around a design. 

Naturally, a client – or designer – may instinctively feel ‘drawn towards’ a particular style. 

But is that style right for the end user? Is it on brand? And is it consistent with every other offering or product from the client? 

Effective testing of a design can therefore help to eliminate personal bias and choice in favour of a design that best meets the brief and desired outcome from the product. 

But how exactly do you go about testing the design side of your creation? 

There are well established methods for testing the usability when it comes to things like websites and mobile apps. 

See also →  4 reasons you shouldn’t do your design work in-house

But design aesthetics can be a little trickier. 

Here we look at a number of different techniques to test design that we use at Creative.onl. It’s by no means comprehensive and of course, every methodology has it pros and cons. 

So it can often make good sense to combine them for the most effective assessment.

1. A/B testing 

A/B testing is pretty straightforward and commonly employed by most designers. 

Are you thinking of making something?

Get a personalised report for your creative project, with expert recommendations to make you successful.

Get expert advice →

Also known as split testing – or bucket testing – A/B testing usually involves giving the client (or intended end user) two designs to see which performs the best – or which they prefer.

Ideally, A/B testing will involve creating a control alongside a variant (which, in design terms, might mean something as simple as a change to an action button – or could comprise a completely different design altogether). 

One group is then shown the control, whilst the other group is given the variant. 

The resulting engagement with each version is then measured and analysed to examine whether or not changing the experience has had a positive or negative effect – or perhaps no effect at all. 

2. A Semantic Differential Survey

The semantic differential survey – or questionnaire – is a rather grand name for asking users to rate a design (or product, company, brand etc.) on a multi-point scale. 

For example, a client might be asked to rate a design’s effectiveness on a scale of 1-10, with 1  being ‘totally ineffective’ and 10 being ‘extremely effective’. 

Semantic differential surveys are a great way to elicit an emotional response from a client or end user. 

They have also been proven to be more effective than, for example, the Likert Scale, where users are just asked to rate how much they agree or disagree with a statement. 

3. Snap test

Snap testing considers first impressions. Because they count, right?  Well, for many of us they do and especially when it comes to websites and apps. 

Think, for example, about the number of websites you click away from because you hate the design – long before you have got round to testing the functionality? We know that poor design – or the perception of poor design – can negatively influence the user’s perception of the site or app as a whole. 

See also →  How can AI improve your user journey design?

First impressions really do count and so a snap test allows you to show the intended user several versions of a design for just 1 or 2 seconds before recording their reactions against, for example, a list of predetermined keywords you would like to them to assess your designs against. 

This can sometimes prove problematic as the short exposure to the design can often mean it’s a challenge for the user to match their feelings with a given keyword. But gut instinct – whether positive or negative – still counts.

4. Comparing your design against your competitors 

A little like A/B testing, this methods involves comparing and contrasting your design with your closest competitor and analysing feedback from your focus group.

You may not be aiming to ‘look like them’ and so this method can be useful for ensuring there is little chance that you will be mistaken for each other. 

It helps avoid brand confusion. And cements your differentiation. 

How do I find a designer who believes in testing their work? 

Finding a designer that really understands your business is not easy. But it is essential. Because design is of no use is if looks good but fails to convert.

Good designers should therefore understand your marketing objectives. They should have a clear idea of what you are trying to achieve with your campaign strategy and what each element requiring design input is trying to deliver.

A good designer also needs to understand the audience they are creating their content for.  

As well as appreciate the important of user experience. Graphic and UX design are now so inextricably linked that the two cannot function without each other. While graphic design may take the user’s needs into consideration, UX allows you to drill even deeper and come up with more profitable solutions to functionality.

Here at Creative.onl, we passionately believe in creating outstanding designs that convert – meaning that they inherently offer a significant return on investment.  

Contact Creative.onl in Leicestershire for design that converts

If you would like to work with a design team that believes in testing the value and effectiveness of their output, then please get in touch with Creative.onl.

We are a small and friendly team with a wealth of expertise in: 

  • App development
  • Web development 
  • UX design
  • Digital strategy
  • Responsive web design
  • Graphic design
  • Video animation 
  • Content
  • Marketing support 

Whatever your requirements, we would be more than happy to talk you through the creative processes of any of our services and products.     

Latest insight articles

Got questions?

Talk to Joe

Get in touch for free expert advice with no pushy sales pitch.

hello@creative.onl

+44 (0)116 318 0488

Praise

“A company that understands our needs and market and has given us great guidance.”

Michael Dempsey
Managing Director
Iskus Health