In field trials, a product is tested in a natural environment (real life). In this type of testing, the product and test conditions are adjusted to be close to actual use. One of the common methods in field trials is conducting regular interviews with users to draw on their experiences in using a product. It is very common to use field tests to test new products before commercial release, which is called beta testing, and developers usually use existing customers to help them in this process. The rationale behind beta testing is that specific problems can often be identified only by testing products under real conditions and in real use. As a result, by helping participants to use new products before the actual launch, potentially costly mistakes can be identified and corrected. In addition, the use of field trials has good face validity because, unlike laboratory experiments, field trials are not conducted in artificial environments.
When is field trial used?
When the prototype or complete product is available, a field trial is used to evaluate the product. Because the implementation of this method is time-consuming and relatively expensive, the use of field trials in the early stages of product development is not common.
Types of field trials:
field trials can be classified according to the duration and number of participants:
Time Classification: Depending on the complexity of the product, field trials can be short-term or long-term (from several hours to several months).
The number of participants: According to the characteristics of the product, field trials are carried out with a smaller or larger number of participants.
When the use of the product by the participants reaches a stable and regular pattern and the participant learns how to use the product, the field trial is complete.
Conducting a field trial requires regular interviews or observations of potential or actual users of the product. On the other hand, it would be expensive to implement this method if the number of end users is large, but nevertheless, good results can be obtained from field trials with at least four participants. Even field trials with one participant have value. Sometimes, in addition to end users, the opinions of people who regularly interact with end users in the test environment are important and should be evaluated.