When you walk into an ice cream store, they ask you to test the ice cream before selling it to you. Why? They do not want to sell you something you might not like and eventually end up with a poor sentiment about the brand.

As a product company, considering the effort required to build a feature, we can’t always take that route. Some features require a lot of engineering effort but might not help in increasing user engagement. Hence, in order to get an understanding of whether a planned product feature is going to be really beneficial to the customers and improve user engagement, we can make use of tests to evaluate and validate product ideas or features, before it is being built. In this article, we will look into the 3 most commonly used tests available on the market that help in validating product features and ideas.

Painted-Door Test

Painted-Door Test, also known as Fake-Door Test, is a test that is run to understand whether the users are interested in using the feature that you are trying to build, at a very early stage of the development process. Generally, as part of the Painted-Door Test, the users will see a ‘Call-to-Action’ button or an image preview with a hyperlink, which gives them a summary of what the feature is going to do. The tracking will be set up on the particular button or the image to gauge user interest and customer engagement for the feature, the most important metric being the number of clicks made.

Advantages of using the Painted-Door Test:

  • Painted-Door test helps in assessing the interest level of the customer, during the ideation phase.
  • It can help in identifying specific user behavior like early sign-ups, pre-orders, etc.
  • Painted-Door test can be run during the very early stage of the product idea. (Redundant from Point 1 maybe?)
  • It doesn’t require much engineering effort to test and validate if the feature is going to be really used by the customers.

Disadvantages of the Painted-Door Test:

  • The user engagement levels are measured on the basis of the image or the landing page that the user sees during the test.
  • It won’t reflect the exact customer behavior when the product feature is rolled out fully.
  • It might not provide in-detailed information about the feature, as all that users see is a single button or an image with a high-level summary of the feature.

A/B Test

A/B Test involves testing a product feature with 2 different variations. The A/B Test will be used to determine the best-performing version among the variations and help us determine the path forward. In general, most of the A/B Tests run for 4 to 5 weeks long, in order to get substantial user traffic and give a clear picture of how users perceive different variations of the feature. A/B Tests are primarily evaluated based on the data collected during their run and a further decision is made on whether to change any of the existing flows in the feature, depending on how well it performed during the A/B Test.


Advantages of an A/B Test:

  • A/B Test helps us test 2 or more hypotheses parallelly that drive customer engagement & retention.
  • It provides concrete data and measurable results, thereby helping us make informed decisions.
  • A/B Test enables us to compare directly between the 2 best variations of the same feature.
  • It helps us in deciding whether a feature needs to be developed as a full-fledged one or not, saving a lot of unwanted engineering effort.

Disadvantages of an A/B Test:

  • It requires a considerable amount of effort to develop and deploy the variations that will be part of the test.
  • A/B Test has a very limited scope for testing, as there might be other variations not considered to be part of the test, that might perform well in a real-life customer journey.
  • It might not work well with features that have complex user flows, as it’s limited to performing well for variations that have a minimal change in the user journey.

Feature Fake

A feature fake also known as a mock feature or a prototype is a mini version of the actual feature, that is used to give a sneak peek to the user on what the feature is and how the feature will work when it’s rolled out fully. This is specifically used when we want to obtain feedback from the users, without developing the entire feature. Upon obtaining feedback from the users, we will iterate and develop the full feature.

Advantages of using Feature Fake:

  • Feature Fake helps in gathering feedback very early in the development cycle and refining the feature as per the feedback gathered.
  • It takes very little effort to develop the content for the feature fake and display it to the users.
  • Feature Fake helps in avoiding situations where the feature is fully developed but actively used by the customers.
  • It helps in obtaining the perception of the user and makes them feel involved in the development of the feature.

Disadvantages of using Feature Fake:

  • It might not give a preview of the entire feature or the user experience to the customers.
  • Feature Fake might be subject to bias based on the user’s understanding of the feature.
  • It tends to overlook the importance of other dependent features as the feature development post the feature fake implementation relies solely on the feedback of the user.


It’s important to note that the choice of tests will depend on the nature of the product, target market, available resources, and the stage of the product development process. Employing a combination of these tests can provide a comprehensive validation of product ideas and reduce the risks associated with the product development process. In addition, using one of these methods also helps in determining the features that could potentially generate a lot of interest and adoption among customers, thereby helping in prioritizing features to be built and drafting a comprehensive product roadmap. 

Watch this space for more product management related articles –

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