I’ve been doing user testing for web UX and app design at Orange Digital for a long time. One of my earliest projects in 2009 was a government website, targeted at cyber safety for kids. We tested the designs with kids from different age groups and used the data to help us perfect the site.
User testing has come a long way since then.
There are load of tools to help designers create a prototypes, run tests and record data.
I Still Need Humans for Testing Please
In my experience though, there is still nothing more valuable than watching actual people use a website and observing their interaction in person.
However, recruiting human participants can be a problem. When it comes to user testing, I’m often under pressure to get the project done on time and on budget. Finding the right participants to test a new website design or app prototype is always a huge mess. It’s always a scramble at the last minute to try and get people in. Not to mention dealing with scheduling and paying them for their time.
Several times I chased quotes from third party market research / focus group recruitment companies but generally ended up tearing my hair out in frustration. They were either too expensive, or too slow.
Surely there Must be a Better Solution
Fed up, I decided to take a shot at solving my own problem. We already had a decent sized database of participants from all the user testing we’d done over the years. Using that database as a starting point, the idea was simple. When we need a user test done, automatically send out a screening questionnaire to the most eligible participants in the database. If we get enough responses from the people we need, the system could schedule them in. If there wasn’t enough on the first batch, widen the parameters and send out a second batch. Once the user test was finished, they would need to get paid. With some help from the amazing designers and developers at Orange, we created a simple, yet functional MVP.
With the MVP complete, we decided to test it on a real client project.
And… it worked!
We ended up getting the exact people we needed for that user test without having to do all the manual work. Not only that, we managed to get it all done within a week.
I’m Probably Not the Only One
At this point we decided to take the idea to the market and see if it was something that other agencies would find useful too. Within three weeks we had multiple agencies signed on and 30 participants successfully complete a user test.
The mission now is to keep improving the platform software and continue growing our participant database.
You can check it out at www.askable.com
UX Designer @ Orange Digital
Founder of Askable.com