Woohoo, everything is free this week! After posting my article on how you can download free UX books and talking about free usability testing last year, I thought that I would write another article on how you can perform some free remote usability testing.
Now, as some of you might know, I try to keep myself up to date on various remote usability testing techniques and tools. So when I started to type this article, I was surprised by an email from the people over at Usertesting.com… with an offer to conduct free remote usability testing. It turns out… they are not the only one who offer free remote usability testing trials.
Benefits of Remote Usability Testing
Remote Usability Testing, is a remote version of usability testing. This unmoderated form of usability testing can help any person or company test an existing (mobile) website, or prototypes, or even a competitor’s website, at a fraction of the cost of regular usability testing.
Remote Usability Testing, which is available for desktop and mobile devices, makes usability testing available for everyone. With low costs, fast turn-around times, and clear processes, any company can gain insights from users in matter of hours, not days. Who wouldn’t want that?
Remote Usability Testing Example Videos
Why should you try remote usability testing?
Just like anything else in life, remote usability testing has some pro’s and cons, and since I like to consider myself a positive minded person, I’ll focus on just those aspects:
- Cost Effective – Remote Usability Testing is a lot less expensive than regular usability testing in a lab. Even testing large groups can be done at affordable prices, providing you and your company with valuable insights at a fraction of the cost.
- Quick Turn-around Times – Turn-around times of less than 1 hour are slowly becoming the norm. The online world moves quick and with lab usability test results taking up to several weeks before being presented, ask yourself, can you really wait that long? How relevant is last month’s research data compared to today’s research data? Remote usability testing will allow you to stay ahead of the game.
- Manageable Logistics – When conducting usability testing in a lab, the consultancy agency charge you not only for moderating the test, but also for recruiting participants. Many remote usability testing services will recruit participants for you, again, at a fraction of the cost. Screen participants prior to conducting the test. Filter on location, age, income, education and more. Or, if you want, recruit your own participants from you client-base.
Free Remote Usability Testing
Ok, now that you know some of the benefits of remote usability testing, how do you get started? Just like anything else, if you’re new, you’re not going to pay big bucks for a tool you have never test driven before.
To help you out, here is a list of some well-respected remote usability testing vendors that offer a form of ‘freemium’. To be clear, some vendors might not be mentioned here. I am only mentioning vendors that continuously offer a form of free trial, or offer regular coupons for free tests. I’ll explain each vendor’s offer in a little detail.
The Mountain View based Usertesting.com is currently the market leader when it comes to remote usability testing. They lead the way in innovation and is often my preferred choice, especially when I am in a rush.
Usertesting.com offers some great options, even when you want to test the service for free. You can choose between testing a desktop application (website) or mobile devices (OS, app, mobile websites etc.) with a simple pricing structure. That structure being… for mobile and desktop you pay the same fee.
The best selling point of Usertesting.com is speed. Setting up the test takes a matter of minutes, and getting results… well, in my experience, under an hour. There is the exception of mobile tests, these usually take just a little bit longer, but I think this has to do with the smaller panel size.
Use the coupon code* iloveruserfeedback for 1 free remote usability test (valid through 14 September, 2012)
* the coupon code is entered after setting up the test
The Australian remote usability testing company Loop11.com has a slightly different approach than the other players in the market. Where the others take a linear approach, Loop11 takes an individual task approach.
So, instead of sending participants through a test defined by steps, where each steps has one or more tasks, Loop11 allows you to test individual tasks, disregarding the session path.
It is a different approach that allows for different test setups. Loop11 will allow you to replay visitor sessions, but in addition to that, you can also view other data such as:
- Clickstream Analysis
- Real Time Reporting
Apart from the features, Loop11 also has a different pricing structure. In most cases, you’ll pay $30 to $40 for a participant, but with Loop11 you don’t pay per participant, but per test. So, if you take that into account (don’t forget that’ll with Loop11 you’ll need to recruit your own participants), you could be cheaper off with Loop11 when testing large groups.
Loop11 offers 1 free test to everyone who opens a free account, a $350 value.
Userlytics, probably the youngest player in the field, offers free account which include 7 credits per month. That’s fine and dandy, but what’s a credit worth? With a single credit, you can test 1 participant from your own panel. In other words, you will have to recruit the participant. The credit only allows you to test ‘desktop’ websites.
Userlytics does offer mobile/iOS testing, but a single ‘complete’ (as they call it) with a participant from their panel, will cost you 18 credits. If you are new to Userlytics, you get a bonus of 33 credits when you sign up for any account, even the free one. So, in total, when you start, you will have 40 credits to use. This is good for:
- 40 participants from your own panel, ‘desktop’ websites only
- 5 participants from the Userlytics panel, ‘desktop’ websites only
- 2 participants from the Userlytics panel, mobile/iOS test
Interested? I would be… even just to test their remote usability testing service.
Whatusersdo.com opened its doors as a remote user experience testing vendor back in 2008 and went into beta late 2009. The UK-based company has quietly been developing itself as a leading player in Europe and is distinguishable from the other remote usability testing vendors in that it allows clients access to an extensive multi-lingual panel or use their own customers.
Working in Europe is very different from the US. Where other vendors seem to mainly focus on the US, WhatUsersDo focuses on both continents, allowing even me to perform remote usability testing with panel members from The Netherlands. <- you know that tiny country…
Having access to panel members is critical, especially to new clients, since they often come ill prepared. New clients usually don’t have access to panel members to act as participants in their tests. WhatUsersDo closed this gap very nicely and even allows European clients quick and easy access to participants in their own local markets.
Use the coupon code* 1FREE to claim your free WhatUsersDo user test (valid for all of September, 2012)
* the coupon code is entered after setting up the test
Still confused about Remote Usability Testing?