There’s an elephant in the room and I think it’s time we talked about it.
On this site, and out of the mouths of UX professionals everywhere come forth the platitudes about how kick ass it is to actually get out there and talk to your customer.
A young and growing crop of tools has sprung up to make user testing easier. But that still leaves this, ahem, elephant.
At some point, you need actual people to take your well-crafted survey or user test. You need to find your target audience. If you have a physical location where you interact with your customers, that’s one thing. But for the rest of us, what are we to do?
You won’t be surprised to find out that for the most part, money talks. Below, we take a look at several free and pay ways to get users to participate in your user study.
But first, obey the posted fishing rules…
You can’t just go shoving your test in every person’s face. Not only are you likely to make people angry but you’re going to get bad data. See, not everybody is right for your test. You need to narrow it down to your target demographic or your target market. There are two times to do this:
1. Before they take the test
2. As they take the test
The truth is, you’re likely to do a bit of both. If you have the ability to see and screen your potential test takers then you can eliminate bad candidates right off the bat. But you’re also likely to ask some demographic questions in your survey. In this case, you can use branching surveys to automatically reject bad candidates. This prevents them from having to fill out a survey unnecessarily. Or, if your survey doesn’t use branching technology, then you can manually weed out the bad candidates later.
But remember, if you don’t catch a quality tester, throw ’em back. It’s the most important fishing rule.
Now, with that out of the way…
What is Ethn.io?
Ethn.io, as the screenshot above so helpfully indicates, helps with finding the right people for user research. They do this by making it easy for you to put code on your website which asks your users to participate in your study.
How Ethn.io works
The whole process is straight forward. After signing up for their service, you create a screener. This screener is a series of questions designed to find your targeted users. You save the screener and Ethn.io generates a link to put on your website. You drop in the code and the hard work is done.
After that, you can watch the responses roll in. You can even incentivise people to become user testers, as long as you use Amazon gift certificates to do so.
How much Ethn.io costs
Free – 10,000 pageviews/mo & 250 responses
$49/mo. – 100,000 pageviews/mo. & 500 responses
$99/mo. – 500,000 pageviews/mo. & unlimited responses
$199/mo. – 1,000,000 pageviews/mo. & unlimited responses
$299/mo. – more than 1,000,000 pageviews/mo. & unlimited views & not branded by ethn.io
UserTesting.com is a whole suite of tools for getting user feedback. In this way, it’s more than Ethn.io. Not only do you choose your users from a pre-screened list based on a variety of demographic factors, but you also create and run your test through the site. It’s important that the test be task-based. This means you’re having users do something on your website. It’s more than just asking them survey questions.
How UserTesting.com works
In a nutshell, there’s a three step process:
1. Select your participants
2. Run your task-based test
3. Get feedback within an hour that
The feedback includes videos of the users going through the site while talking out loud describing their experience.
How much UserTesting.com costs
$39 per user (unless you’re a cheap bastard, and then it’s $29 per user)
By default, usertesting.com charges $39 per user. But, $10 of that is paid to the actual user. You can choose to keep this payment if you think you can attract users without incentives. In this case, you would pay $29 per user. Currently usertesting.com is running a $30 off on all orders over $100 as a first time special.
Mechanical Turk is Amazon’s answer to how to get simple jobs that can’t be done by computer accomplished in an inexpensive manner. Part of the uniqueness of the service is that it’s meant to get very quick feedback from users. This is how it can afford to be so cheap. On the other hand, you may find a wide variety in the quality of the responses.
How Mechanical Turk works
First, you create an account (or login with your Amazon account). From there you create your HIT or Human Intelligence Task. In the HIT you list exactly what you need done and how much you’ll pay for its successful completion.
The HIT goes live on Mechanical Turk and you get results in minutes to hours.
They have a whole section on business testing that is all about this kind of work.
How much Mechanical Turk costs
It varies on the task but it’s dirt cheap. Pennies. You set the price but in general, expect to pay anywhere from a penny to a quarter ($0.25) per user.
What is TryMyUI?
TryMyUI is an all-in-one solution similar to UserTesting.com, above. You create a scenario and a series of tasks and then select your users based on a number of demographic criteria such as age, gender, household income, and other factors. You can also specify custom factors if you don’t see it available by default.
How TryMyUI works
This is the good news. They give you your first test free. So don’t take my word for anything here, just jump on over and try it out for yourself.
But just so you have the rundown, the process is really straightforward. It’s so straightforward that I already said it above. All you have to do is create a scenario with some tasks (and they have good sample questions available to use by default) and then pick your users. Then you get to go on break. I think that’s how that works.
How much TryMyUI costs
$35 per user but they offer bulk discounts:
We all know what begging is
We’ve all been there. We rushed into creating our user survey and now we need people to fill out it – stat. Oh, and not just anybody. We need business owners between the ages of 24 and 31 who are left handed and come from disadvantaged families. You got anything like that!?
And lets say that your budget is $0 dollars. Now what?
Now you’re at the mercy of people’s good graces. Demographics probably don’t enter into it. You’re just looking for warm bodies to get the thing filled out and hoping you’ll catch some of who you’re looking for. So let’s hope you know how to work your social networks. That means you have to be loud and persistent on your channels to get the word out. Be nice but be consistent. Especially on Twitter, your followers can easily miss your tweets.
If you’ve used a particular tool like Usabilla or Loop11, they’re really good about retweeting your request for filling out your survey, provided you use their product. Be sure you get in touch with people in the UX community on social networks – they may retweet you too to spread your message to a wider audience.
Bringing It On Home
At the end of the day, it costs money to go out and find your target market. Recruitment, like most other things, follows that old adage: you get what you pay for.
With UserTesting.com and TryMyUI, they are providing a full service. They’re getting you a qualified user AND they’re conducting the test and providing feedback. Ethn.io gives you the tools to mine participants from your site’s own users. Mechanial Turk provides a way to do very inexpensive, quick testing. And rounding it up, begging can get you some feedback but the quality is only as good as your ability to reach the target demographic and to get them to actually take your test.
Do you know of other, or better ways to recruit website user testers? If so, tell us below in the comments!