As discussed in Practical Product Management, there are six methods of research: three are best for finding problems; three are best for evaluating solutions. An experiment is the best tool for evaluating usability—or is it? Check out www.interface-research.com. This site compares 10 different aspects of usability for a web site and asks which you prefer. At the end, they show you their results so far. Pretty clever. This form of research is called a choice model because it forces the respondent to choose. After all, you cannot choose both answers.
But here’s the question: is the survey telling us which is better or telling us which is popular? And is popular better?is popular. (For better, check out .) I’m not convinced that the popular choice is indeed better or if it is just what we’re used to.
If you have a new user interface or new web site design, why not use a method like this to test before you poke it out online? For that matter, you should test positioning, product names, your marketing collateral templates look-and-feel, and so on. Do you?