Optimization glossary

Product validation

What is product validation?  

Product validation is the process of confirming if the ideas, features, or products you're building actually meet user needs and expectations. It helps you identify which features or products are feasible for full-scale development.   

To do this, testing and gathering feedback is the first step to ensure the product concept is viable before putting any major resources in the development phase. Once you've gone through the discovery, design, and build process to have a working prototype or an MGP out there, is when you need a product validation process.   

To determine how the feature works, you put it out in front of a few focus groups. Then put the feature or product in a beta test, and share it internally with key stakeholders. This step gets you feedback. You try and incorporate some of that in deciding the next steps. Product validation ensures product success by aligning with user demands and business objectives.  

Factors influencing product validation:   

  • User needs  
  • Business goals  
  • Market trends  
  • Resource constraints  
  • Leadership and key stakeholders  

Are you even building the right product? 

No product or feature, no matter how small or big, how much of a great idea it looks, has any guarantee of actually working. Many ideas will have the exact opposite effect of what you think they will. 

Going through a product development process is an enormous risk. It's a risk because if the new product or product idea isn't what the customers wanted from the start, then resources would go to waste and might actually damage your business. You can afford these risks.  

Testing a product after it is built does not help if it does not work for your potential customers.  

So, focus on this:  

What is the smallest idea you can test/analyze that validates your assumptions without building the full product? 

If your initial test works, can this idea evolve into something bigger? If that works, what is the minimal viable product (MVP) version who are the early adopters, how can you find the product-market fit, and so on? 

By taking this product management approach for your target customers, you can de-risk your product development process and build a successful product for your target market.  

Reducing risks with validation testing 

Simply rolling out new features to all new users without validation can be a recipe for disaster. Instead, roll out more frequently to a larger subset of users. Often, this process is full of risks so use experimentation to validate performance and understand the impact on customer experiences before launching.   

Through controlled experiments, you can test multiple variations, tailor user interactions, and deploy changes faster.   

And then there is the notion that what if the feature or product you're validating isn't the one that your target audience really wants? In that case, the only way to remove assumptions is to introduce experimentation early in the product development process. Check out the different methods you can deploy in the next section. 

A simple product validation process involves:  

  • Defining metrics and establishing clear success criteria for validation.  
  • Gathering insights from potential users through surveys, interviews, or focus groups.  
  • Developing early versions or models of the product.  
  • Testing prototypes with users to gather feedback on functionality and design.  
  • Analyzing market trends and competition to confirm demand.  
  • Evaluating technical and financial feasibility to ensure viability.  

Product validation methods  

Often during the product validation phase, you're trying to make a decision through testing. To validate a product or a feature design, you can run experiments to get quick feedback on the user experience so you can move on to the next step, which is to build that product or feature.   

Here are some of the methods you can use:  

  • In A/B testing, you test version A versus version B to identify which option is better.  
  • In A/B/n testing, you compare multiple versions against each other to determine which one has the highest conversion rate.  
  • In server-side testing, you render test variations directly on a web server.   
  • In multivariate testing, you modify multiple test variants to figure out the one with the most uplift.   
  • In A/A testing, you compare two identical test versions of an experiment baseline.  
  • In usability testing, you roll out a product feature to real users for feedback and evaluate release readiness.   
  • In lean hypothesis testing, you build a minimum viable product (MVP) to assess market fit and increase the speed of development.  
  • In canary testing, you release a product or a feature to a small percentage of users first.     

Product validation best practices  

Implementing these best practices will lead to a product that aligns with customer needs and market demand.  

  • Collaborate with stakeholders: Involve folks from different teams for valuable insights into all aspects. 
  • Engage users: Consistently conduct user interviews, market research and gather customer feedback to ensure the product meets user needs and expectations.  
  • User testing and analytics: Utilize experimentation data to validate assumptions and guide decisions when building the final product in the real world.  
  • Make assessments: Evaluate key milestones and iterate on improvements to ensure the end product stays on track.  

Making your entire product development process risk-free  

Bringing in experimentation early into your process can lead to bigger and better ideas.  

Plus, you can quickly understand:  

  • Who your target users are  
  • What are their needs and pain points  
  • What value proposition do end users want from your product  

The only way your validation efforts 'work' is if you learn from your experiments.   

To ship products your customers actually want to use, check out this new product experimentation guide.