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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Phillips

User Testing (.com)

In this post I will talk about what uesrtesting.com is, how you should use it, and some tips to help make sure your tests go smoothly.


At my work we rely heavily on usertesting.com. This platform allows us to access a massive pool of users and invite them to test out wireframes and prototypes we come up with. We can also use the platform to simply hold 1-on-1 contextual interviews with them. The platform comes in with a wide variety of demographics that you can narrow down via checkboxes and the like to help you get closer to your ideal target user. When that's not enough, you can also introduce screener questions to further refine your user pool. Is it the best testing situation? No. Ideally you would test with people who are actually using your product. But when in a pinch, like when access to your customers is denied by the company, this can be an acceptable compromise. It's also convenient because it offers 2 forms of testing. Moderated (in-person/1-on-1/remote), as well as Unmodereted (you provide the system with a list of tasks for users to go through). The time saving that unmoderated testing can give us is HUGE as we can have a dozen test takers go at once instead of having to schedule out 12 people that align with our own schedules. However, unmoderated testing comes with its own unique challenges and that is why I highly recommend my next point.


One thing I try and tell my coworkers all the time is "Hey, don't just use this tool as a test giver. Become a test taker too!" Usertesting.com has a pool of users and they are always open to more people signing up. By signing up to become a test taker yourself, you get to experience the UX process from the OTHER side. You also get paid. This can open you up to experiencing new ways of giving tests, or arranging prototypes, or conducting interviews. You also get to experience these ux processes from a wide variety of companies and not just limited to your companies scope. I have taken tests for Eufy, Microsoft, Google, American Express, Best Buy, Home Depot, and many more.

It is very likely that you may learn some new tricks. It is also extremely likely you will learn several things not to do for your tests. As this platform is adding an extra layer to the "natural" user experience, you may notice that normal phrasing may be confusing given prototype layouts in combination with the usertesting.com interface. You may even realized you simply interrupt things differently from how the test giver meant it, or you are just confused altogether. All of this is valuable experience to arm yourself when you go into doing your own tests.


And finally, just some tips from my own experiences. Remember, these test takers are not doing these tests out of the kindness of their hearts - they are being paid. This can encourage some to sign up for as many tests as possible as quickly as possible and cause them to rush through a screener and potentially provide false answers to qualify. To combat this, I often add "gotcha" or trick questions that test a piece of knowledge that they should be aware of, or simply a question that makes them think and thus slows them down through rushing through it. Sometimes I might even state in the screener that I will need them to reveal some sort of personal information when I do not actually intend to, just to weed out those that are in it purely for the monetary kickback.


Another big tip, test your test first. Make sure you run through your test with a preview. And then, only launch the test with 1 or 2 slots and then have those people go through the test. This way you can be sure that it should run smoothly. And if it didn't in those tests, you are able to make changes before dishing it out to dozens of people who might all run into a problem, invalidate the test, and cost you (or your company) money.

It can also be a great idea to have your colleagues give your test script a quick once over to make sure the directions are clear and that they avoid any inherent bias.

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