Wizard of Oz

In Brief

The Wizard of Oz (WOZ) test involves one or more individuals simulating fully functioning product features without the use of technology. All inputs, outputs, and algorithms are performed manually by humans, but without the knowledge of the customer. This allows entrepreneurs to test a complete solution and gain accurate customer feedback without the cost of building a complex, fully automated solution. It is often confused with concierge testing.

Helps Answer

  • Which features will provide the best solution?

Tags

  • B2C
  • B2B
  • Quantitative
  • Value proposition

Description

The WOZ test is a well-known experiment from the 1970s. It involves one or more humans, so called wizards, who manually simulate the functionality of a product. However, the wizards are hidden so that the user does not know that someone is manually doing the work.

Time Commitment

WOZ is not a "quick and dirty" prototyping method as it requires a high commitment of resources. Depending on the test there can be more than one wizard (human) interacting "behind the curtains" with the customers. The time commitment also heavily depends on the task domain and the number of users exposed to the product. For instance, categorizing images by a wizard (human) is easier and faster than transcribing voice for speech recognition. Hence the time commitment can vary from days to even several weeks.

How To

  1. Build a prototype of your product without the fancy algorithms/technology.
  2. Allocate at least one person (the “Wizard” behind the curtains) who simulates the interactive behavior of the product.
  3. Show your product to your users and let them use it.
  4. Collect data to see if your product delivers value to your users.

Interpreting Results

The WOZ test can provide valuable information, especially quantitative data. We can also gather information about the nature of interaction with our product. Summarize all observations and use the insights to adjust our solution accordingly.

Potential Biases

  • Sampling bias: See concierge test
  • Confirmation bias: See concierge test

Field Tips

  • “Be lazy. If you can hire five interns to fake a feature, don’t bother coding it.” @TriKro
  • “The Wizard of Oz method is for evaluating a solution hypothesis.” @TriKro
  • “Pareto Principle + Wizard of Oz Experiment is all you need to invest your time in a successful business” @andreftavares
  • Got a tip? Add a tweetable quote by emailing us: [email protected]

Case Studies

Tools

References

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