Students heading back to school shouldn’t be the only ones thinking about upcoming tests. Testing should be an integral part of the development of interactive, offline and campaign communication efforts. Within Design Thinking, ever-evolving and new iterations can be the norm when fine-tuning work, and research such as concept testing substantially helps drive forward momentum while fine-tuning solutions.

Concept testing is the process of using quantitative and qualitative methods to evaluate consumer response to an idea, product, design or interactive piece of communications prior to it going to market—and beyond.

Warren Berger, author of “The Four Phases of Design Thinking” recently shared the following points leading to successful efforts in the Harvard Business Review.

Question. Don’t just ask the obvious questions. Look deeper and don’t be afraid to rethink basic fundamentals about your business and products.

Care. Caring doesn’t just mean giving great customer service. Get to know your customers as intimately as possible. Immerse yourself in the lives of the people you are trying to serve.

Connect. Find ways to bring together concepts, people, and products. Many great breakthroughs are “mash-ups” of existing ideas.

Commit. Give form to your idea as quickly as possible. Create a prototype and begin testing it right away. This is the only way to know if you’ve touched on something truly promising.

Berger’s points bookend testing with questioning at the onset of the process and committing to testing as quickly as a prototype is developed.

Avinash Kaushik, author of Occam’s Razor, shared in a recent blog post, “There is a lot of ‘buzz’ around ‘buzzy’ metrics such as ‘brand value/brand impact’” and "’blog-pulse,’ to name a couple. IMHO these ‘buzzy’ metrics might be a suboptimal use of time/resources if we don’t first have a hardcore understanding of customer satisfaction and task completion on our websites.

There are many different methodologies to collect customer qualitative data, including:

We’re firm believers in the value of using research and testing to guide the communications process, regardless of the research methodology used.