Fake door test — UX case study

You’re using an app/website you’re familiar with and a new button has appeared, looks like a new feature. You click it, but instead of a new shiny feature you get a message saying “Sorry, this is not available yet”. Not available? Why have the button at all?

This might have been a fake door test. This is a fantastic way to test the value of a new feature or functionality before spending time and money developing it. Let’s look at a recent example where we recently used this method at W2.

The idea

The W2 team have had an idea. They want to build a big fancy custom bundle builder.

Without going into too much details, W2 offer a range of background check services. Customers can use multiple services within a workflow, one service after the other with the option of failover services. Here’s how this would look:

users would simply drag and drop the services they want

The problem

Building this feature would take a considerable amount of time and money, raising a few questions. Do the customer want this service? Will they use it? Will it bring value to the business?

Insights from customers

We asked our customers, would they be interested in a bundle builder feature. They said “Yes.”

We asked would they use it? They said “Yes.”

We asked how often would they use it? They said… “not sure.”

No doubt, if we show customers a cool new feature they might say they want it, but not really use it. Just like that bread maker you purchased for £80, you wanted it at the time, you thought you’d gain value from it and use it every day… but you only used it once and now it’s gathering dust.

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” 

Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company

The Fake Door (advanced)

With a fake door test, you can measure the interest in a product or feature without actually coding it. We can create the visual part of the feature, show it to customers/users, without the feature being active.

In our case, we can simply create a link to the Bundle Builder page that doesn’t actually work. Instead you would see a message saying “The Bundle Builder is currently not available for you. If you would like to activate it or learn more – click here”.

The Results

Users clicked the link and were certainly curious about the new feature. So do we now invest time and money to build this new feature? Not yet!

The fake door test is a fast and cost-effective method of how to measure peoples’ interest in your new feature or product. But just because users are curious, it still doesn’t make the feature instantly worth making.

At this stage it’s time to move on to the Feature Fake! Basically fake it, before we make it.

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