Most design research is formative – generating insights to shape our designs.
At the start of a piece of work, our research questions are more qualitative than quantitative. We need to understand what might be happening for our users and why. We can put precise numbers on that later.
Experts have found that testing a design early with just a small number of users can catch major issues quickly. Fixing problems at this stage is cheap and effective, compared to trying to address them later when we’ve invested time and effort in building things.
Repeating these small tests many times, we engage with surprisingly large numbers of users. By the time of NHS Expo in September, the NHS.UK team had conducted research with a total of 767 patients and carers, and 83 clinicians and frontline staff.
As a new service comes to life, we can try out different versions with parallel samples of users, and see the interactions between multiple different design elements. The purpose of these “split tests” is still to help us refine our design, and make decisions based on facts, not opinions.