What is Zactly?
Zactly is a design tool for product and service designers. It allows you to keep track of all the assumptions you have made about your product, its functionality, who its users are and how it will be used.
Why is tracking design assumptions helpful?
When you track all of the assumptions made during the design process, it becomes easier to plan and execute research needed to validate these assumptions, even if it's been months since the assumption was made.
Resource and time limitations mean that you may not do as much research as you'd like to before prototypes are built and products launched. Necessary assumptions are often made early in the design process, never validated and then subsequently forgotten about as new concerns emerge. At this point, new assumptions may be being built upon older unvalidated assumptions.
Zactly aims to stop this happening, without dictating how you actually carry out the research—that’s up to you and your team!
Couldn't I use task management software to track design assumptions?
Task management software isn't designed for this purpose, as an assumption isn't a task in the traditional sense. Tasks are thought of as being complete when a concluding action has been carried out. Assumptions are often required to be revisited and revalidated after a non-specific period of time, but creating scheduled or reoccurring tasks relating to the assumption can become irritating and unhelpful.
What is Zactly's pricing?
The plan is for Zactly to remain free to use for the foreseeable future, with no ads or restrictions. Going forward, it may switch to a freemium model to help cover the costs of servers and further development.
If you do make use of the app, and would like to support its development and upkeep, you can buy me a coffee via the link in the footer below. It would be much appreciated—but totally optional, of course!
Projects and Assumptions
The first thing to do is to create a project. Once inside, you'll see four separate lists where you can add assumptions specific to this project. The four lists represent how confident you are about the truthfulness of the assumption you are adding. These confidence levels are validated as not true, likely not true, likely true and validated as true. You can add assumptions by selecting the + icon within one of these four lists.
Assumptions should be titled as a positive statement—e.g. Our users mainly use mobile devices. You can then select the assumption card within the list to add details to it, including a description, a level of importance, a due date and comments.
It's likely that most of your assumptions will initially be added to one of the two central lists. In other words, they are unvalidated. You should also add assumptions that you have already validated to the outer lists as these may need to be validated again in future. Once you have mapped all of the assumptions to the appropriate confidence lists, you will get a better picture of which assumptions you should seek to validate, and which should take priority. Validating all assumptions for a project as either true or not true is your goal.
Once any research around an assumption has been carried out, hopefully validating it one way or the other, details of this work can be added in the description and comments. You should then reassess the confidence of this assumption. This will move the card across to its new list and track the time it was last researched.
If you are working as part of a team, you can assign assumptions to specific team members.
You can create a bank of user personas to help keep your end users in mind when tracking assumptions. You can add names, stories, roles, quotes and ordered goals to each persona, alongside an image. Personas can be linked to specific assumptions in your projects. Assumptions that are linked to more than one user persona will be treated as a slightly higher priority.
When planning research work for your projects, it can be useful to see a summary view of all assumptions tracked throughout your projects. The Research suggestions view allows you to view and order each assumption based on priority score (which is calculated based on the confidence, importance and number of linked personas an assumption may have).
By default, a weekly summary email listing the top six highest priority unvalidated assumptions will be sent to your email address. This helps guide your research planning for the coming week.
By default, a monthly summary of the highest priority validated assumptions will also be emailed to you, acting as a prompt to consider reassessing assumptions that have previously been validated—as perhaps something has changed since the last time an assumption was researched.
NOTE: Research suggestion emails can also be disabled within Settings if you don't wish to receive them.
Research suggestions can be ignored (either indefinitely or for an interval of your choosing) if you don't want a particular assumption to be recommended as a suggestion in future. This will also exclude it from appearing in any research suggestion emails.
If you decide to carry out research on one of your assumptions, it's best to mark it as being actively researched. This can be useful for seeing a summary of tasks currently being worked on, and by whom; and also means that you won't continue to receive it as a research suggestion while the work is already in progress.
Creating and joining a team
Being a member of a team will allow you to share projects and personas with your teammates; and adds additional viewing, filtering and assigning options to let you manage your work together.
You can create your team in the General tab within Settings. Once created, you can view and change team settings and invite teammates via email.
NOTE: You can only be a member of one team per account.