We find that difficult decisions about which direction a product should take, such as how to prioritize features or whether users will understand how to accomplish key tasks, are often best answered by asking users to interact with early stage designs, AKA prototypes.
Our labs are easily configured to handle any type of prototype testing. In fact, nearly all our in-lab testing and a sizable portion of our in-field research involves some type of prototype. By testing paper or interactive prototypes made with tools such as Flinto, Framer, InVision, or Axure early in the design process, we can identify numerous design issues. This type of low-fidelity usability testing helps explore metaphors and conceptual models along with navigational structures and flow patterns. It is also cost-effective, fast, and easy. At this point, many usability issues are identified, and designs can be iterated and refined for further feedback and testing.
Prototypes can also be used to test a more realistic or immersive interactive experience. We are able to recreate most any context for testing prototypes (from bathrooms to kitchens, even an operating room) in our labs to understand which aspects of a design work well and what needs to be improved prior to launch. This is useful both early in the design process and when most or all design work is done up-front so that final candidate designs can be tested and refined before a development hand-off.