Just like there are many ways to collect attitudinal data, there are different moments when data about your customers' thoughts, opinions, and attitudes comes into play during product development. But how do you get this data? That's where delta testing comes in.
Delta testing is user testing automation. It's a user research method that collects attitudinal data both quantitatively (in the form of surveys) and qualitatively (like customer panels and user journals) to help companies achieve a wide variety of business goals. By using delta testing throughout product development, you ensure the voice of your customer is threaded throughout every step of the process.
Let's dig deeper into how to capture attitudinal data at each phase of the product development life cycle (PDLC) using common delta testing use cases.
During the Research Phase
In the research phase of development, you'll need to focus on
- Identifying the problems your audience wants to solve and where their true needs lie
- Finding the gaps with the current solutions (your future competition)
- Looking at what works for your competitor's products and what key features and functionalities your potential customers will expect
Since you're still in the concept or prototype phase at this point, you may not have your own product to test. But competitive product delta testing lets you study the relationship between your potential customers and products similar to yours on the market.
This delta testing use case enhances market research, which mainly relies on attitudinal data like surveys, interviews, and focus groups. Through this feedback, you'll get a clear vision of opinions on existing solutions, shortcomings, and what's working really well. Competitive delta testing gives you this nuanced qualitative real-world feedback about competitor product usage. You can then turn around and send this feedback along with your other research to the Product and Design teams.
During the Alpha Phase
Once you've gone from a prototype to a bonafide working product, you'll need to focus on
- Bug-hunting in real-world technical environments
- Working out critical issues that would eat into testing time (and be more expensive to fix once your product is further along)
- Getting technical feedback to improve the whole ecosystem
Here's where employee delta testing comes into play. During this phase, you can leverage your employees and co-workers for high-value, real-world insight (and the oft-needed sanity check). While this phase is largely focused on bug-hunting, it gives you attitudinal insight into ease of use that will prepare you for testing with your target market customers. It also has the added benefit of promoting a product culture within your organization by inviting internal teams to get to know the product firsthand.
Once you've surfaced issues from real-world usage, you can send that feedback to your Engineering and QA teams.
Right Before Launch (Beta Phase)
You're almost ready to launch your product! But before you do, you'll need to focus on
- Discovering and prioritizing issues in your customer's home environments
- Evaluating satisfaction with features and user interface
- Getting firsthand insight into how users are interacting with your product and approach areas like unboxing, setup, daily usage, etc.
Since you've ideally already done some real-world testing to resolve major stopping issues, this phase should be all about polish. Product release delta testing enables you to collect Issues, Ideas, and Praise (i.e. key cornerstones of attitudinal data) from your target market testers to identify, prioritize, and address the fixes and improvements that have the greatest impact on customer satisfaction and user experience.
Issues that surfaced can go to your engineering team. It can also help your support team prep documentation ahead of launch. Feed incoming ideas to your product team to flush out your roadmap. And don't forget to send any incoming praise to Sales and Marketing because they'll use it to refine messaging and create testimonials.
After Launch (And Forever After)
You've finally launched and, if all has gone according to plan, your product is in the homes and hands of real-world customers. But the work is far from over. Now comes the iterative phase, where you'll need to focus on
- Driving your product roadmap (and cleaning up your backlog)
- Surfacing and resolving issues before they reach your happy customers
- Tracking improvement metrics as your product gets updates
Your product will need continuous updates, from refining old features to adding new ones. Throughout that process, delta testing for product iteration relies on your current customers to get you real-world validation like thoughts on how useful your product is, what's working great, and what could be better. This form of continuous testing ensures your products are performing well across releases and keep performing well for as long as they're around.
This delta testing feedback keeps Engineering on top of bugs and other issues that arise throughout the continuous iteration and delivery process. It also keeps customer-vetted ideas flowing into your backlog and roadmap, which is a big help to your product team.
What Makes Delta Different
Throughout the entire product development life cycle, delta testing enhances your user research efforts, fills knowledge gaps, and offers incomparable insight into the lives of your customers. Learn what makes delta testing different from other processes and how it works with (and even replaces) other methods for incorporating customer feedback with this free ebook.