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Summative or Formative? What’s the difference?

I know this is an oversimplification, but do you want a Summary or do you want the research to help Form the product?

Are you still drawing boxes on pieces of paper? Doing some paper prototyping? That’s Formative research.

Have a site on a dev server somewhere? Or is it already live? Testing these sites would be considered Summative research.

I really like Formative research. Maybe because I’ve become a bit jaded by the seeming inability of large enterprise-size companies to move at the speed of light (insert sarcastic line here about the Starship Enterprise’s top speed). There’s something about co-designing with customers that really gets me excited. I can see their surprise that I’m listening to them, and am changing info, layouts, and screen flows based on their feedback.