Why you always need a Plan B when you’re validating

User Validation Plan B

As a poster boy Product Manager, you of course always include a ‘Validation’ phase in your outlined product discovery. Being lean-as-fuck, you aim for a fake e-mail test or a simple teaser in your existing product in order to validate customer interest in your killer feature idea. But wait, you’re not going to meet the conditions you need in order to apply your kick-ass validation idea? Puh…then I guess it straight does development, right?
Well, even though this story sounds a bit over the top, it provides me with the perfect trigger, why you should always have a plan b (in fact, multiple plans) in place when it comes how to validate during a product discovery.

While validation, in general, is broadly used, I personally like to differentiate two types of validation: Validating the user need and validating your problem-solution fit. Both kinds of validation feature opportunities to either use quantitative or qualitative methods.

So here’s some food for thought about to get creative when your default methods can’t be applied:

  • When you’re building a new product, is there a similar product sharing some characteristics with your idea live?
  • If so, are any analytics insights available?
  • If not, is quantitative data available?
  • If not, can you talk to the users of this existing products now or send them a survey?
  • When you dive right into execution, make sure to bring contrasty versions of your solutions to your usability testings.
  • If you can’t reach the users from within your target group face-to-face, reach out via e-mail and combine questions with wireframes of your solutions (make sure to randomize the order of your displayed solutions).
  • In case you don’t have access to users from within your target group at all (likely in the context of b2b or internal products), try to recruit users with common characteristics and talk to them face-to-face.

Even if you now roll your eyes and have heard some of these approaches before, I hope to at least inspire you to come up with creative alternatives to validation again and again and again…