So you’ve developed a product and now you need to test the UX design. Sure, you can—and probably should—have members of your team try it out and give their feedback. But where do you find people outside your company to act as testers? Here are four tips on where to look.
1. Existing Users
If you have existing users, getting them to test the UX design of your new or updated product is a great place to start. Because they are already using your product, they may have a degree of self-interest in helping to ensure that what you roll out next works well, which may make them more willing to spend time testing. Active members of your customer community can be very helpful—reach out to them on your website or through social media.
If you’d like help asking your users to participate in a UX design test, you may find ethnio a useful resource. This company can help you develop effective recruiting screens to intercept potential testers and provides a powerful back-end tool that allows you to set specific criteria for your desired testers.
A word of caution about using existing users as UX testers: while their familiarity with your existing product makes them more likely to understand your new product—which can be especially important if you are targeting a niche or expert market—these users may have a familiarity bias that leads them to dislike features of your new product simply because they are different and unfamiliar.
2. Random Strangers
If you don’t have existing users, or if you specifically want to steer clear of the preconceived ideas that existing users may bring to bear in a UX design test, then approaching people at random can be a good strategy. For online testing, sites like UserTesting can connect you with a large pool of potential testers.
For a more low-tech approach, you can spend an afternoon in a coffee shop and offer to buy strangers a drink in exchange for spending a few minutes providing feedback on your UX design. This strategy works best if you have a simple product and you’re interested in anecdotal feedback from just a few people. If you go the coffee shop route, be sure to go about it in a polite and unobtrusive way—the last thing you want to do is hassle other patrons or run afoul of the shop owners.
While having random strangers test your UX design can certainly be useful, there may be situations where you would value input from experts who make a living optimizing UX. If this is the kind of help you’re seeking, sites like PivotPlanet and Clarity can connect you to experts with a wide range of professional expertise—potentially even in your specific industry or niche.
Of course, seeking expert advice usually comes at a price. Both PivotPlanet and Clarity charge based on the time their experts spend helping you, so it’s important to have a clear game plan for the questions you want to ask and the type of feedback you’re seeking before you get on a call.
You may want to consider recruiting people who use a competitor’s product. This should give you some insight into their decision, and the areas your product falls short. Your own professional network can also be a great place to look for testers.
4. Less Tech-Savvy Testers
If your product is aimed at the general public, it’s important to test your UX design with all sorts of users—not just tech-savvy Millennials, but also those with limited tech literacy. Enter The User is My Mom. For a modest fee, the entrepreneur behind this site will have his mom, or potentially someone else’s mom, test your website and provide an honest assessment of your UX design.
What makes sense for your company and where to find suitable testers will ultimately depend on factors such as your user audience and the complexity of your product, as well as your testing budget and timeframe. But gathering a variety of voices—from industry experts to regular users to those with no previous knowledge of your product—can give you a more balanced understanding of what works, what doesn’t and how you can improve your UX design.
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