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Testing a consultation before it goes live

Natalie Williams -

As well as testing their consultations in Citizen Space's preview mode, some people like to run a test phase or pilot phase of their consultation and receive actual test responses.

You can do this by publishing your consultation privately, sharing the URL with a select few test subjects to submit responses, and then retracting the consultation. Once you've checked that you're happy everything's working as you expected, you can remove the test responses from your dashboard and change the consultation back to the public setting ready for the launch.

Below you'll find some step-by-step instructions explaining exactly how to do this.

1. From the consultation dashboard, go into 'Edit consultation details' and select the check-box to make the consultation 'private'. (This is only temporary for the test phase and we'll be changing it back to public before it goes live.) Remember to scroll down and save this change using the button at the bottom of the page.

Changing the consultation to private will change the ending of the consultation URL to what we call an obfuscated URL, i.e. the ending will be a mix of letters and numbers which no one could possibly guess. This means that only someone you've shared the private URL with (i.e. your test subjects) will be able to access the consultation while it's set as private.

2. Publish the consultation via the green button on the dashboard and copy the private URL to share with your testers and ask them to submit responses. When everyone is finished submitting you can retract the consultation via the red button on the dashboard.

3. Once you've conducted your research, tested the tools that you need to and/or received feedback from your testers, you may wish to clear out the test responses from your dashboard. This article explains how you can remove responses from your dashboard.

4. Lastly, change the consultation back to 'public' by returning to 'Edit consultation details' and un-selecting the private check-box. Don't forget to scroll down and save this change using the button at the bottom of the page. When you scroll back up you'll see that the URL will have changed back to what it was originally - this public URL is the one that you need to promote when you launch the consultation for real. 

Now you're ready to publish your consultation via the 'Publish' button on the dashboard when it's time to go live.