Physical products require all design decisions to be made up front, before mass production begins. But digital products never stop evolving, extending the role of the designer and introducing new decision-making methods. One example is A/B testing, where groups of users are shown different versions of a product and their aggregate behavior is analyzed to see which one “wins.” This data-driven design has the seduction of science, the authority of analytics, and the measurable proof that management savors. But these attractive qualities can overshadow a more fundamental question: What are we trying to learn? And does the data have the answer?
This talk looks at when and why you should use A/B testing, rely on creativity, or utilize design thinking. I’ll discuss how that choice should be influenced by the stage of your product, relationship you want with users, and why choosing how to decide can be an ethical responsibility.
Simon King is a Design Director at IDEO where he helps organizations launch products and services that make the world more responsive, connected, and humane. He holds a BFA in Graphic Design from Western Michigan and an MDes in Interaction Design from Carnegie Mellon. He advocates for hybrid designers that span traditional disciplines in his book Understanding Industrial Design: Principles for UX and Interaction Design, published on O’Reilly. He’s easily excited by new ways of prototyping, elegant data design, thoughtful storytelling, and nerdy debates.