Unleashing the Potential of the PSR Framework and Crafting Powerful Hypotheses

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Formulating data-driven hypotheses is crucial to the success of any effective A/B testing programme. Think of each hypothesis as an idea to be tested and ultimately confirmed or rejected. It is essential for deriving meaningful insights and informing business decisions.

In our previous blog post "10 Sources to Feed Data-Driven Hypotheses (Qualitative & Quantitative)", we've explored various data sources. Now let's look at the next step: Creating strong hypotheses. There are several methods to formulate them, traditionally using the if-then approach.

We particularly favour the PSR framework presented by Optimizely, as it places a strong emphasis on addressing the problem. That's why we're going to introduce you to this framework.

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Understanding the PSR Framework

The PSR framework provides a methodical approach to hypothesis generation. PSR stands for Problem, Solution, Result. As a guiding principle, this methodology ensures structured and focused hypotheses that lead to meaningful results. Let’s take a closer look at each of the components.

1 Problem: Identifying the Core Problem

In the field of conversion rate optimisation, our primary goal is to solve user problems. Before brainstorming solutions, it's important to clearly understand and define the user problem. You should always validate this with insights from both qualitative and quantitative data sources. Many organisations make the mistake of relying on gut instinct when brainstorming solutions, without knowing the specific user pain that needs to be solved. That's why the PSR model is so useful, because it ensures that every hypothesis always addresses the user's problem.

2 Solution: Designing Strategic Actions

With a well-defined problem, shift your focus to proposing solutions. Draw inspiration from the qualitative insights you have gathered and brainstorm interventions that directly address the problems you have identified. Ask yourself:

  • How can design changes improve the user experience and alleviate the identified problems?
  • What adjustments can be made to specific workflows or features based on user references?

Then try to describe your solution as specifically as possible. What should your approach look like? Describe it so well that a third party can easily understand what is being changed. Evaluate the effectiveness of the solution in relation to the identified problem. Why are you convinced of its effectiveness?

3 Result: Anticipating Measurable Outcomes

A robust hypothesis remains incomplete without a clear vision of the expected outcomes. When formulating the hypothesis, clarity about key objectives and measurable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) aligned with the proposed solutions is crucial. To ensure the validity of the hypothesis, ask yourself what metrics will indicate the success or failure of your proposed strategies. 

Applying PSR to Real-World Examples

To illustrate the practical application of the PSR framework, let's consider a hypothetical scenario:

Problem: 20% of users abandon the user journey at the payment stage.

Solution: Streamline the payment process by implementing a one-click checkout option and providing clearer instructions.

Result: Reduction in abandonment rate, increase in total purchases and positive impact on user satisfaction.

Final hypothesis: 20% of users abandon the user journey at the payment stage. If we streamline the payment process by implementing a one-click checkout option and providing clearer instructions, we will reduce the abandonment rates, increase overall purchases and have a positive impact on user satisfaction.

To make sure you do not forget any of the important points mentioned above, follow this checklist to formulate good hypotheses: 

  • Clearly define the problem from the user's perspective
  • Validate your problem statement with qualitative & quantitative data.
  • Design solutions inspired by qualitative insights that address the right user problem.
  • Describe the solution as well as possible (detailed and easy to understand).
  • Define a clear primary metric and a few secondary metrics to measure success.

Unlocking Success with PSR

Generating powerful hypotheses is not a one-size-fits-all exercise. It requires a nuanced understanding of user behaviour, creative problem solving and a data-centric mindset. By integrating the PSR framework into your hypothesis development process, it forces you to understand the user journey from their perspective and address pain points with precision. As a result, you can create structured, powerful tests that drive meaningful improvements to your online presence. 

Happy testing! 

Vanessa Mangano

Vanessa Mangano is a Consultant at Up Reply, specializing in personalisation and experimentation. Her responsibilities include expert consulting on Optimizely for various international markets. In the blog, Vanessa will share tips and tricks for Optimizely, along with interesting insights from her hands-on experience.

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