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User-Centred Product Creation in Interactive Electronic Publishing

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User Validation Planning

Verification vs. validation

While verification tests if the product is free of bugs, validation tests if the product meets the requirements of its intended users.User validation is the assessment of the quality of use of a product or a service for specific users who want to achieve their goals in their environment.

A user validation process consists of

  • planning user validation
  • carrying out validation activities according to this plan
  • making decisions on the basis of the validation results (eg redesign, correct severe errors, start implementation, roll-out).

It is best practice to use a standardised, fully defined, documented and repeatable procedure for user validation. User validation planning should always be carried out first and early in the development process, and must be adapted to changes of the development plan if necessary.

Integration into project plan

User validation can only contribute successfully to development projects when it is planned into the project plan and when standard project management techniques are used. Preconditions are

  • availability of resources required for user validation (competencies, time, budget)
  • appropriate communication structures to provide feedback from users to the members of the development team
  • sufficient resources to redesign the product on the basis of test results (when planning dependencies and iterative development cycles)

Measures and metrics for project progress and costs are valuable when the project results are transferred to subsequent follow-up projects.


User validation has advantages.

  • You can evaluate the initial plan before committing yourself to it. You can simulate different ways of performing user validation activities as they will occur later in the project, and compare these easily, until the most effective and efficient approach is found.
  • Formal schedules help to identify critical factors (eg time, cost, personnel qualifications) which will need a concentration of commitment and effort.
  • The plan is a powerful persuader in engendering a commitment amongst the project participants or the development team by demonstrating visually that the plan has been well thought out. The plan shows "that" and "how" user validation is achievable.

Which methods shall one use ?

There is no unique answer to this question. The pro-forma for user validation planning helps to collect the information about the objectives, requirements and constraints of a specific development project may limit to a certain extent the choice of appropriate methods. When precise information about the development project is available, then adequate methods to answer the validation question can be identified. The VNET resource finder helps.

Who manages quality ?

In small projects the project manager will be responsible for quality management. Large projects usually have a quality manager, and may even have a usability group with leader.