User research in Prototype development (Alpha)

Date adopted: 
September 14, 2022
Last update: 
October 3, 2022

In Discovery you spent time defining the problem you are trying to solve. In Prototype development (Alpha) you will:

  • look at options to tackle the problem; and
  • test these options to see if they address the unmet user needs identified in Discovery.

Measure user needs

Find out how to measure user needs in Prototype development (Alpha)

Plan user testing

You should also be starting to plan user testing. You should:

  • complete your analysis on the user needs research you've done so far;
  • develop a list of external and internal users who will test the service during this phase; and
  • test the solutions on a variety of devices and platforms.

Include accessibility in your test plan

Do not forget to consider accessibility in your test plan. Where possible, include assisted digital routes in your testing plan. The purpose of this testing is to:

  • show how the service has evolved to meet the needs of people with a variety of abilities;
  • show how the service meets user needs in a variety of environments;
  • identify non-digital options to support users who can't access the digital service;
  • complete end-to-end testing on any assisted user journey options you include; and
  • identify accessibility barriers and have a plan to address them.

Examples of some user research techniques you can use in Prototype development (Alpha)


If you have an existing website or service you can use analytics to:

  • get insights into what people are doing when they use your service or website; and
  • identify issues or possible causes of issues. You can then correct these issues in our prototype.

Card sorting

If you didn't conduct a card sort in Discovery, you can do it in Prototype development. You will see how people expect website content to be organized.


You can use interviews as part of your usability tests. You can use the responses to clarify behaviours you observed during testing.

Surveys and questionnaires

Surveys give you a reflection of attitudes of your whole user populations. Questionnaires give you opinions, but do not represent the whole user population.

Tree testing

Use tree testing on websites to test the information architecture. This will allow you to create a benchmark. You can then test it again after you've made some improvements.

Usability testing

You can conduct usability testing on low-fidelity prototypes. Collect your findings, iterate and test again.

User feedback

You can take user feedback from an existing service to find out what is and is not working for users. You can then address these issues.