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Reflecting on early testing and feedback

30 Sep 2022

By Louise Gilbert

As my husband said: you don’t put a new choccy bar on the shelf without doing a bit of taste testing first!

And he’s right – feedback is the breakfast of champions (and some might say chocolate is too…)

So that’s what we did for our new World of Work Program. It’s the first program of its kind in Australia, so it was even more important to hold early prototype testing with potential participants – women who are looking to return to work after a break or change careers entirely.

I wanted to share what the experience was like and how valuable the feedback has been to the development of the program.

Preparing for testing

It’s natural to want to wait until the product is ready before lifting the lid and inviting feedback, but we accepted that we needed to be vulnerable.

The first step was reaching out to an expert for their top tips – and Vic Brennan was my go-to. (If anyone reading this needs a product leader, she is top talent in my books!)

Vic went through the approach I was thinking and fine-tuned it a bit. She gave me some top tips like: “A good rule of thumb is having 6-9 people doing testing, this is enough people to help you identify trends.” So that’s how many people we had. Eight women for one hour each.

Another rule of thumb is to find people where they hang out. So I reached out via LinkedIn and Facebook groups to find a mix of women who are currently out of the workforce and those thinking about changing careers.

I quickly received 50 enquiries to take part – six times the amount we needed – which just shows the level of interest in a program like World of Work for women looking to re-enter the workforce or change careers.

The women were rightly compensated for their time. After all, the cost of living is expensive (I paid $6 for Pringles the other day!) and time is our most precious resource.

Feedback: the good, the bad, the ugly

Before I get into the feedback we received, I will mention that my approach during the testing was one of curiosity and neutrality.

The parameters and expectations were set from the start, and I let the participants know that all feedback is valid and helpful and there are no right or wrong answers.

Here’s some of the ‘good’ we heard:

  • “I’m taking a new direction in my career and it’s all new. Any help I can get, I’ll take it! I feel comfortable with the world of work, it sparks my interest.”
  • “I think your main objective and goals are admirable, I’m one of many women who need help. I’m not the type of person who gets out there and networks and that’s how the world works. This shows me how to get out of my comfort zone, the goal and objective is awesome, puts a little fire in my belly to be part of that.”
  • “$19 is cheap as chips. I assumed it’s only because you’re getting government support. I’ve looked at other courses and this one should be priced well over $1000.”
  • “I’ve had a COVID revelation and I’ve been questioning what I’m doing. I fell into my old role and just stayed with it. Life’s too short. I want to re-evaluate what I’m doing.” 
  • “This is all about highlighting the strengths of women. I like that.”
  • “My problem is I have too many skills and 10 different CVs. Recruiters get confused.”
  • “This sounds promising. Seeing the world of work program has given me confidence, and positive vibe. A person like me doesn’t know what to do or who to talk to and it’s giving me a stepping stone towards what I want in the future.”
  • “The employer showcase sounds amazing. I would like to visit them in their office face to face because it’s always so different and it will give me more information about the realities of working for that business in the future.”
  • “Hearing directly from the employer itself is better than just a job search. I need to know salary range and expiration date for experience if I’ve had a big break. Is my experience still valued? Is my overseas experience valued?”

No bad, no ugly.

Because this is all good learning that we can do something with. We have 28 pages of insights and actions the team is prioritising.

Now what?

We’re now making changes to improve the useability of the program, with updates to improve the flow of the content and making sure the language is consistent.

We also found areas where we are giving too much information – it’s all valuable, but not necessarily digestible in a single course! So we’re mostly stripping back, rather than needing to add anything.

Then we’ll do another round of testing before we launch in October.

My reflections

This experience in testing has been beneficial on a number of fronts.

Yes, we have tangible feedback and can iterate our prototype. But my empathy and understanding of our target user has deepened. I’ve been reflecting on the language I use, expectations and assumptions I hold.

At the start, there were some concerns that our choccy bar wasn’t yet edible, but that’s the whole idea isn’t it? Be vulnerable, put things out there, and just ask for help. Get the feedback, make tweaks and changes, and keep going.

Taste the choccy bar before you put it on the shelf.

I don’t want to name the 50 women who offered their help or the eight women who participated in testing, but I want to thank you all for your contribution. 

Want to know more about the World of Work?

We’ve just updated our website with even more details about the program, what to expect, and frequently asked questions.