5 reasons crowdsourcing is ideal for usability testing

By | May 12, 2014

If you’ve adopted an agile approach to development then you probably already automate a lot of testing, you may even be making the move towards continuous deployment, but one thing you can’t automate is usability testing. The importance of having real people use your product in a real world situation is tough to exaggerate.

In the past you might have splashed out on some expensive focus testing. If you engaged a third-party to pull together a group in your chosen demographic, you would have had to organize some instructions, and then pore over videos and reports detailing their behavior. Focus testing takes time to set up, it requires a lot of resources, and it’s not uncommon to realize that you forgot to ask some important questions or clarify something that skews results until the testing is complete.

The online world has presented a better solution in the shape of crowdsourcing. Here’s why it could be the right fit for your usability testing:

1. It is less expensive than focus testing

Saving money is always a win and crowdsourced usability testing is cost effective. Beyond enlisting family and friends to try your software out, there is no cheaper option to get this kind of feedback.

2. You can get a quick snapshot

It doesn’t take long to set up and you can choose the size of sample you need. You can also fine-tune and then repeat the process at short notice. It gives you an instant snapshot of where your product is with feedback that you can act on.

3. Testers are in their own element

If you ask people to come into your offices, or they are visiting a focus testing lab, then the situation is going to impact on them. If they test from their own machines in their own homes then you are much closer to how your product will be used in the real world and that’s where a lot of the valuable insight is.

4. You can pick the demographic

You can pick testers to reflect your vision of an end user. This is true up to a point and it depends on the service you employ. You should be able to specify age groups, gender, country and maybe a few other signifiers. If you need special expertise or in-depth screening then crowdsourcing through a third-party might not be the ideal solution.

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5. You can make changes on the fly

It make sense to start out small with a usability test and get the data back in and then use that to hone your requirements and work out any kinks. With crowdsourced services it’s easy to make quick changes and then request another round of testing. This can be prohibitively expensive with traditional focus testing.

Crowdsourcing is really ideal when you’re shooting for the mass market and you’re looking to get concrete data on how people use your product, how they navigate the interface, or how they engage with specific features. It can deliver bite-sized chunks of actionable feedback without costing you too much.

Category: Crowdsourcing Quality assurance testing

About Simon Hill

Simon is an experienced freelance technology journalist covering mobile technology, software, and videogames for a wide variety of clients in print and online. He regularly contributes to Digital Trends, Tech Radar, and Android Authority, and he ghostwrites for CEOs in the technology space. After completing a Masters in Scottish History at Edinburgh University, he began his career as a games tester, progressing to lead tester, game designer, and finally producer, before leaving the industry to write full time. He is passionate about the potential for good software and hardware to improve our lives, and strongly believes that thorough testing is a vital prerequisite for greatness.