In order for a product to be successful, it requires foremost a good user experience design. And to create a good user experience, user testing with real users is inevitable. The sooner and the more often you test, the better the product gets.
However, for many startups and developers, user testing is often too time-consuming and expensive. But it is easier than many think. We’ll show you how everyone can test ideas and prototypes free of charge.
Anyone who has ever developed a software or an app knows how quickly you get used to it and how you become blind to mistakes. Anyone who has tried to ask his family or acquaintances for honest feedback can be sure that they do not judge your work very objectively. The dearest ones are there to hold one’s hand or wait at home with the bottle of rum when things go wrong, but for sincere criticism, we would advise you to consult honest strangers.
But now comes the good news: As most UX gurus acknowledge, user testing with five participants is already enough to identify the biggest usability issues of a product. Each additional user usually discovers the same mistakes as the five testers before him. However even finding five motivated, uninvolved people is not that easy. Coordinating these people to show up at a prepared test stations at the appropriate time takes work. In addition to that, most developers have never learned how to perform a user test properly. These are the reasons why many small companies launch products without having tested them before.
One way to avoid testing yourself is to outsource it completely to a service provider. For a lower budget, there are several websites where you can buy user tests. But even that can quickly get expensive and the quality of the results is sometimes questionable. If you can afford it, it is worthwhile to work with professionals and contact a UX agency directly. This is the best solution, especially for established companies and large launches, because the testing can be adapted exactly to the specific needs of the product. But what does a start-up do that has no money left?
The solution can be found in a new series of events, which are currently prosperous in many cities in Germany and Austria. At the so-called “Usability Testessen”, motivated users and developers come together for an evening to test new ideas and products for their usability in a relaxed atmosphere. These recurring events give developers and start-ups the opportunity to conduct user tests for free. Participating test stations get support and tips on how to develop good and helpful tests with simple means. At the end of the evening, each test station had at least five testers, who took the product apart and offered their feedback. In addition to the learning effect on user behavior and usability, the networking character of the whole is not negligible. At the event, you can also join as a test eater and take home many new ideas and impressions besides enjoying free pizza and beer.
In Austria, the usability Testessen is already happening in Vienna, Innsbruck and possibly also in Salzburg soon. You can get information about all usability Testessen either on our website, on www.usability-testessen.org, and in the Facebook group for Testessen in Austria.
User tests are indispensable for the further development of every digital product. Organizing the testing yourself is feasible but often very time consuming and requires some expertise. The safest option is to ask professionals and hire an experienced UX agency. However, if that’s not an option, we recommend taking part in a free usability Testessen.
No matter if ‘Big’ or ‘Small’, you should only take one thing with you from this article – Try to Test as much as possible! #testearlytestoften