Industry Insights 5 UX Testing: How To Safeguard Data While Maximizing Insights

Industry Insights


UX Testing: How To Safeguard Data While Maximizing Insights

by | Feb 22, 2024 | All, Featured, Software Development, UI / UX

About The Author Steve Taplin

Steve Taplin, CEO of Sonatafy Technology, is a serial entrepreneur with extensive expertise in software development, MVP product development and the management of staff augmentation services.

When testing the user experience of a new tech product, making the experience as true to “real life” usage for testers as possible is an important part of getting genuinely insightful feedback. However, protecting the sensitive data used to build the product is essential, as is guarding your intellectual property.

Fortunately, there are many creative and effective ways to test a product’s UX during the development phase without revealing the data and details you want to keep private. Below, 20 members of Forbes Technology Council share UX testing methods that allow tech developers to safeguard data while maximizing important insights.

1. Conduct Empathy Interviews

Empathy interviews help developers gain a deep understanding of the user’s perspective. We can take inspiration from the design-thinking principle of empathy. Identify user personas, select a diverse group, conduct empathy interviews, create a simple prototype and iterate based on feedback. It helps ensure the final product is functional and meets users’ needs while maintaining confidentiality. – Kanishk Agrawal, Judge Group

2. Use Fictional, Anonymized Data

One unique but effective way is to carry out prototyping with mock data. Create a functional prototype of the application or system that mimics the user interface and user experience but uses fictional, anonymized data. This approach allows users to interact with the system as if it were real, providing valuable feedback on the UX without any risk of exposing sensitive or real data. – Anthony Lancaster, Professional Robots

3. Try Empathy Mapping

One unique but effective way to test UX is empathy mapping. Imagine a typical user, think about what they like and feel, and then act like them while using your product. This helps you understand how your users feel and think when they use your app or website. – Margarita Simonova, ILoveMyQA

4. Create High-Fidelity Prototypes

High-fidelity prototypes are detailed and interactive mockups of the final product that simulate user interactions very closely. They allow users to experience the flow, design and usability of an app or website without needing access to the actual software or sensitive data. High-fidelity prototypes can be created using a variety of tools, including Sketch, Adobe XD, Figma or InVision. – Praveen Andapalli, Vitel Global Communications, LLC

5. Use White-Label Prototypes And Third-Party Research Firms

One approach that has proven effective is to use white-label prototypes and third-party research firms to run the testing. At SnapLogic, we have set up a sequestered environment as part of our Co-Innovation program, allowing us to invite participating customers to test our innovations in situ, jointly ensuring the study’s validity while maintaining these organizations’ data privacy and security. – Jeremiah Stone, SnapLogic

6. Leverage Controlled Environments With Paid Subjects

Consider leveraging controlled, simulated environments with paid subjects. By recruiting participants through reputable agencies and requiring them to sign nondisclosure agreements, you can ensure both confidentiality and access to a wide range of user perspectives. This approach offers valuable insights into user behavior and interaction with your product, all within a secure and controlled setting. – Oleksandr Mykolaienko, Tallium Inc.

7. Share Obfuscated Prototypes

In one study, we partnered with a university to test light and dark themes for our mobile dispatch software. We provided the university with a prototype of a pizza delivery app with similar styling and actions, but made it visually distinct from our own software. The data collected from obfuscated prototypes provides us with valuable insights that we can build into the designs of our products. – Kalyn Sims, Hexagon’s Safety, Infrastructure & Geospatial division

8. Conduct ‘Blindfolded’ UX Testing

To test UX effectively without spilling sensitive information, conduct “blindfolded” UX testing with a high-fidelity prototype. This method involves creating a detailed, interactive mockup of your app that uses entirely fake data. Then, conduct rapid, impromptu testing sessions with random users and focus on key interactions, not the entire app, to get feedback on the crucial elements of your UX. – Steve Taplin, Sonatafy Technology

9. Consider Both Simulated And ‘Low Fidelity’ Approaches

There are several creative approaches you can take. You can create a simulated environment that mimics the real-world scenario without the sensitive information. Role playing exercises provide an effective, reliable way to test usability issues in a controlled setting. Or, you can try paper prototyping, which is an excellent “low fidelity” approach to usability testing that has no digital footprint. – Mayank Pant, Iks Health

10. Turn To Your Colleagues

Testing UX in the development phase? Using outsiders poses security risks. I suggest looking around—how about the receptionist, the accounts payable clerk crunching numbers or the new sales guy who’s still looking for the espresso machine? They all have fresh eyes that are free from the potential groupthink of the development team. And there’s an added bonus: You’ll boost their engagement at the same time as getting feedback! – Rhonda Dibachi,

11. Have Your Engineers Role-Play

Here’s one idea if you’re not ready to involve external testers: Ask your own software engineering team to play the role of your customers in a usability workshop. You’ll be bound to get valuable insights, and as a side benefit, you’ll be increasing your coders’ level of commercial thinking. – Ed Donner, Nebula

12. Tap Into The Insights Of Long-Term Customers

Find a handful of long-term customers who are willing to experience the new user interface. While there’s always a risk that they could signal what you’re working on to your competitors, that risk is minimal, and the reward could be huge—firsthand feedback to ensure the best possible product. – Bruce Kornfeld, StorMagic

13. Conduct Blind User And Generalized Population Testing

Implement blind user testing with concealed brand identities in prototypes. Additionally, conduct generalized population testing to gauge diverse user perspectives. Together, these methods ensure comprehensive and unbiased UX insights without compromising sensitive information. – Rick Kelly, Fuel Cycle

14. Follow The ‘Wizard Of Oz’ Method

An effective approach to testing a product’s UX in the development stage is through a “Wizard of Oz” test. This involves designing a prototype or interactive interface that allows users to engage seamlessly. Behind the scenes, a designated team member, referred to as the “wizard,” manually controls the system’s backend. This enables the team to assess the UX without exposing any sensitive information. – Mohan Subrahmanya, Insight Enterprises

15. Implement Feature Flags

Implement feature flags to obscure confidential information. Feature flags allow you to make certain features available to select users. This way, you can test sensitive app areas with your internal team, such as non-techies from marketing, sales or customer care. Alternatively, you could test your app with a small, trusted group of third-party testers, granting them only limited access. – Konstantin Klyagin, Redwerk

16. Test Your UX In Pieces

Divide your overall UX into pieces and test it accordingly. Like a puzzle, when the pieces are apart, you can evaluate each one with the grander context in mind. However, the testers—whether they’re internal or from the outside—will only pay attention to the quality of one piece. Your sensitive information will be well-guarded. – WaiJe Coler, InfoTracer

17. Employ Interactive Wireframes

A novel approach to UX testing is employing interactive wireframes with scenario-based tasks. This method engages users in realistic, context-driven interactions, providing valuable UX insights without the need to reveal sensitive or actual data, ensuring both confidentiality and effective user experience analysis. – Ken Pomella, RevStar

18. Include Guerrilla Usability Testing

Incorporate guerrilla usability testing with real users in public spaces, using nonfunctional prototypes or disguised interfaces. This approach provides authentic user feedback without revealing proprietary details, ensuring a genuine and unbiased assessment of the user experience. – Favour Femi-Oyewole, Access Bank PLC

19. Leverage VR

For innovative UX testing that doesn’t risk sensitive data, leverage virtual reality. VR enables interaction with a realistic product version in a secure environment, yielding valuable insights into the user experience and engagement. It effectively maintains data confidentiality and offers a deeper understanding of spatial and interactive dynamics compared to conventional screen-based methods. – Andres Zunino, ZirconTech

20. Use AI Modeling

Use artificial intelligence modeling—as long as you train the model properly, you’ll get excellent feedback. You won’t save time, necessarily; after all, you’ll still need a focus group to indicate what they want. But once you have a trained, secure AI model, you can test your UX securely. This approach helps you retain and test the human element without the worry of leaking sensitive information. – James Stanger, CompTIA

For more information, talk to us today or follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook for news, updates, and discussions with industry professionals.  #sonatafytechnology #forbes #uxtesting

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