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Maximizing success: Tips for running a pilot / test phase.

Hints for Running a Pilot / Test Phase

Consider a pilot / test phase before launch. It’s an opportunity for you to see what kind of a first impression your site has on a small segment of users. It’s also a great time to test communication and training tactics to see if they work well or if you’re missing anything to help make the launch a success.

1. What is the goal of your pilot phase?

During the pilot phase, you’re gathering feedback to improve the site before you launch to the wider audience. You may seek out feedback for specific sections of the site or the overall user experience.

Consider what worked well for your organization in the past. If this is a new approach for your organization, invite test users to grow and learn with you! Many teammates will feel honored to have a role in this important project.

A trial like this also acts as a proof point that their feedback is critical and helps to ensure that the site is relevant, accurate, and always improving.

2. Who should be invited to test the site?

While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, we often find success when organizations:

  • Get a diverse test group so you can learn how site experiences differ based on role, location, seniority, etc.
  • Have leaders nominate someone from their team to provide their team’s perspective 
  • Invite everyone to sign up by completing a submission form, then choose those who put in the effort to become a trial participant
  • Involve influential team members as they tend to share news about the site with their network – raising awareness and excitement

3. How should you gather feedback from the test users?

While a 1-on-1 review of the site with each test user would be great, it likely isn’t realistic. We recommend gathering both high-touch and low-touch feedback. For example, create a survey that invites users to try certain features and then share feedback and questions.

This is a great way to hear from many different users across different locations or work schedules. Blend that survey with a few brief follow-up conversations (either 1-on-1 or in small groups) to dive deeper into the feedback/questions.

Bonus hint: Thank test users for their contributions and apply as many site upgrades as you can based on feedback. When you launch, call out the great feedback the pilot team provided, the improvements made as a result, and encourage everyone to share more feedback using the feedback form – you can list it in the launcher.

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