Why don’t we test information products?

No one would consider releasing a physical product to the market without testing it first. From motor vehicles to pencils, it’s hard to think of a product that has not been tested throughout its design and production.

To not test would be reckless. The product could fail in some way, perhaps harming consumers or damaging the organisation’s reputation in some way.

But when it comes to information products, printed or web documents, many are released with only minimal review. Rarely do organisations rigorously test their documents to check comprehension and impact. Usually, documents are reviewed by a handful of managers and then sent out.

The underlying arrogance says ‘If we think it is OK, it must be.’ To release an information product in that way, to release any product like that, is reckless.

  • An untested document may not be read. For a document to be effective, it must be read (thank you Captain Obvious). If you can’t get people to read your document, all is lost.
  • An untested document may not be understood. A good document conveys ideas, quickly and easily, . from one person to another. It’s vital to test ideas are being received properly.
  • An untested document may not be acted on. Test the impact on the thinking, attitudes, behaviour of readers. How else will you know whether all the writing and review effort has been worthwhile?