5 Low Cost Usability Testing Tips

Whether you’ve created an application or a website, it is critical to know if people find it easy to navigate and operate before you make it live or take it out of beta testing. In the grand digital landscape, having a website that is hard to navigate and is unintuitive and confusing, is a little bit like having a well that doesn’t produce any oil. Indeed, though, user testing can be expensive. What if you are a small startup on a bootstrap budget? What happens if you don’t have all the money in the world to hire testers in different countries? The idea here is to get creative and not see the user testing phase as something that is limiting. With a little resourcefulness, you can get proper user testing on a budget. Here are five low cost usability testing tips.

  1. Keep the test population small. You don’t need a hundred people to test your website or application. In some cases, having this many people can offer more confusing results than promising ones. Also, with a hundred or so people testing your website, you could be paying upwards of $10,000 – just in compensation. However, if you keep it small, but with a broad demographic range, you can get away with using only five people to test your site.
  2. Offer people your services in exchange for a user testing session. Sometimes people won’t mind taking a service or a product versus monetary compensation, especially for twenty minutes of their time. If you want to save a lot of money, or if you are on a seriously tight budget, this might be the only way you can get proper user testing. So, if you have a product or service people can use, you might want to send an advertisement out online for user testers and offer what your business has to offer in exchange for monetary compensation.
  3. Outsource. This can be a great way to get user testing, because you can get promising results from a possibly unbiased demographic. Sometimes, when you create a user test, you get a bunch of participants that are overexposed to a certain technology or application. Perhaps they will be even more critical, which can be a big waste of time and money - on top of the money you are already paying to the testers. However, by going overseas, you can pay less and often get better results.
  4. Go with an online user testing service. There are many testing companies you can sign up for online that allow you to try out their services – just to see if you get the results you are after. Many of these services are drastically cheaper than hiring a firm to undergo user testing for you. Many of these services are packaged together so that you don’t have to do much, but wait for your results.
  5. Ask friends and family. You can often trust that friends and family will give you an honest answer. If you have a few people working for you, you could have a number of different people – from a number of different demographics – all pitching in to test usability. Chances are that the results will be promising.

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