5 tips for conducting a Prototype Review

When it comes to running an effective Prototype Review, a little planning can go a long way. We’ve outlined some points to kickstart your planning. Whether you’re a seasoned researcher, or not, we hope this leaves you excited about engaging assistive technology users in your design process!

Illustration of brunette woman wearing a yellow t-shirt.

Amber Knabl, Customer Success @ Fable

“If your prototype allows for it, have testers interact with the prototype themselves. Prompt them to share their thoughts aloud, while also sharing their screen with you.”

Why should I conduct a Prototype Review?

There are many benefits to engaging people with disabilities in your design process. Identifying issues before a product is even built will save you from potential customer complaints, as well as remediation time down the line. When conducting a Prototype Review, it is important that you are transparent about where exactly you are in the product cycle. Always be open about how much change you’re able to make, based on the stage you are at.  

Tips for a success

1. Identify your goal

To begin, think about what you want to accomplish with your Prototype Review. What do you hope to learn? Are you looking to:

  • validate design decisions?
  • understand a particular assistive technology in general?
  • uncover any obvious challenges for assistive technology users?

Keep in mind that all Fable Prototype Reviews are one hour long.  You can always do a combination of these things within a single session.

2. Prepare a script

Set the tone

Start your session off by building some rapport with the tester. Discuss your goals, and make sure everyone is comfortable before diving in. Take this time to ask questions, and learn more about the assistive technology they are using. This context and level of comfort will help you as you move forward with your session.

Set expectations

It’s important to specify the kind of feedback you’d like. Communicating this helps to make effective use of your time together!

  • Do you want to know when/if a particular interaction feels out-of-the-ordinary? Or only when something’s problematic? 
  • Are you in the early stages of design, where you can revamp entire features?
  • Or are you in a later stage, where changes might take the form of smaller tweaks?

Provide context

Tell the tester a bit about your company and the prototype you will be going through in your session. Why are you building it? Who is the intended audience? Invite the tester to share existing experience they may have with similar products. 

Order items based on priority

To ensure you cover the things you want to cover, structure your session with higher priority items first. Be mindful that it may take some assistive technology users longer than non-assistive technology users to complete a task. 

3. Adapt to the user and their technology

Depending on the fidelity of your prototype, testers may or may not be able to interact with it themselves. Unfortunately, many design and prototyping tools are not compatible with assistive technology devices. 

If your prototype allows for it, have testers interact with the prototype themselves. Prompt them to share their thoughts aloud, while also sharing their screen with you. 

If your prototype is not compatible with the assistive technology, not to worry! You can still get valuable feedback this way. A good approach is for you to open the prototype on your screen, and share it with the tester. Have the tester share their thoughts aloud, guiding you to click through the prototype on their behalf. 

4. Ask the right questions 

For assistive technology users, flexibility and adaptability are key. You’ll want to draw out information around access and control of information, through the designs you’re walking through. Would they be able to access or modify the content to meet their needs? To make this process easier, wherever possible, avoid ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions. 

Depending on the fidelity of your prototype, “hypotheticals” may be challenging for some testers. If they do not have enough context around your product or how the interaction is designed. Keep things open-ended and provide testers with prompts or redirections wherever necessary. 

Here are some questions you might want to consider adapting to the product you are reviewing: 

  • Based on what I’ve shared with you about the purpose of this product, can you tell me what you would expect from the prototype before using it?
  • Is it clear what the product/feature we are designing is for, and what it does? 
  • Can you tell me about the overall layout and structure? 
    • Is it intuitive? Is it clear? 
  • How is this <design, flow, interaction, etc.> different from what you’d expect?
  • How would you naturally interact with this product using your preferred configuration?
  • Could you find what you are looking for using your assistive technology? 
    • How easy or hard would it be? 
  • Can you tell me about how your needs would or would not be met in terms of how you control or navigate content here?
    • For alternative navigation users, you’ll likely want to preface this with “ “assume all of the controls have been labeled correctly so they can be activated by