Notes on Pivotal Lab’s Lean Customer Research with Validately

From a 3/31/15 video with Validately’s Steven Cohn, posted on Pivotal Labs’ livestream channel, link here. I also saw this presented by Steven Cohn at LeanUX NYC a few weeks ago, which was great. Google Steven’s name, there’s lots more out there including this great post on, link here.

  • Can customers use a feature?
  • Do customers want to use the feature?
  • Who specifically wants to use this feature?

Demand validation tests help you learn directly from customers

  • Don’t ask “Would you use this product? Yes/No” — that doesn’t represent any real intention
  • Add some cost to make potential customers analyse their choices
  • Costs can include:
    • Money or prepayment
    • Time spent (i.e. would you take a 10 minute survey for this?)
    • Reputation via social validation (i.e. share on Twitter)

Once you find the customers who are willing to pay a cost, test and iterate prototypes with them: 

  • You’ll find out what features/products are really valued
  • You’ll realize how valid your personas are
  • You’ll be listening to potential customers–not just the general public, who may have very different intestests
  • When you launch, you’ll already:
    • Know who you’re marketing to
    • Have customers
    • Have more targeted messaging
    • Have a more targeted go to market plan
    • Have a more targeted idea of where to do your messaging

Plan for your Demand Validation Testing

  • When: At the prototype stage
  • Who: Customers (for a feature) or representative customer types (for a new product)
  • How:
    • Have test respondents use your prototype in their natural environment and then ask the the “cost question”
    • 20 test respondents per archetype
    • Measure:
      • Completion rates
      • Engagement stats (time, pages etc)
      • Exits
      • Passing the “cost question”

Q&A after presentation

To avoid biasing in prototypes:

  • Time-bind prototype creation (Google uses 1 day)
    • Forces prioritization
  • Prioritize top use cases and build several prototypes to test them
    • Ideally create one prototype per persona so you can accurately and distinctly track responses

Developing personas

  • Focus on psychographics over demographics
  • Use personas as filters:
    • Tie actual customer reactions to personas–don’t overemphasize responding unless they connect to an important persona
    • Therefore, have some personas who aren’t very interested in your product so that voice is also captured and used as a filter

Some lean companies work from the expectation that they’ll only build 25% of what they test

Pivotal Labs has over 120 free videos posted on livestream—they rock! (Link here)

Validately seems like a great user testing tool, I can’t wait to actually use their services! (link here


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