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Decanter design is intentionally user-centric. As a sibling to accessibility practices, user testing and research are deployed to ensure that our models function as expected. Testing and research are often performed by secondary client project teams across the University, and also directly through the Decanter project.

Our approach

With any design and code system, it is expected that over time our components will need to be refactored, redesigned, and deprecated. For this reason, teams at Stanford Web Services and University Communications are in perpetual cycles of testing and user experience research on our Decanter components. As user behavior and technology changes, so too our design systems.

Testing + research methodologies


Our approach to testing and research starts with a plan. Plans are socialized amongst our teams to confirm the objectives, goals, methods, and scripts are in line with our expectations. Plans allow our teams to collaborate and feel shared ownership over our approach to testing and research. And it gives us a single source of truth to document all of the coordination, communication, calendars, and other important details.

Test in bites

We like to test in small iterations, and often. Big rounds of testing and research are fantastic, but often more than our Decanter project is equipped to handle. We also find that for Decanter, smaller iterations allow us to be agile in our approach to usability, providing us the feedback we need to “keep up” with refactoring, rather than w-holistic redesigns.


We run tests both on campus with Stanford folks, and also through unmoderated testing platforms like Optimal Workshop and Userbob.

We also heavily prescribe to a user-centered culture on our teams, and encourage all team members to participate in the tests and research as observers. Teammates as observers have the direct opportunity to learn about how users are using our products, increasing their empathy for their needs.

Explore our tests and research

Our design teams have conducted tests and research year over year. We want to share some of the documentation for this work with you on our shared Google Drive folder:

See test and research examples