Three years ago, during my second year in university, on a gloomy day in autumn, after my morning class, I decided to spend an hour or two at a cafe that was located on our campus, have a cup of coffee, and read a couple of pages of a book. “There, I might run into some familiar faces,” I thought, “that would bust the bad mood.”
The first thing that caught my attention after I stepped inside the cafe was a young man sitting behind a table near the entrance, a laptop and a folded piece of paper standing on his table, reading “Free Coffee! – Usability Testing.”
I didn’t hesitate to go talk to him because I knew what the whole thing was about and also, who doesn’t like a free cup of coffee?
What this man was doing is technically called guerilla testing and it’s one of the methods used for usability testing. So, what’s the point of this story, you ask?
Well, my takeaway from it is that user testing costs can be as low as some cups of coffee. And even that is not the cheapest method. There are even more cost-effective ways to test the usability of your website or app. Keep on reading to learn more.
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What Is Usability Testing?
Usability testing is the process of evaluating a design’s usability with a sample group representing the target audience. It generally requires watching people attempt to perform tasks and activities. It is usually repeated from the beginning of a product’s development until its release.
In usability testing, actual people engage with a website, app, or other products you’ve created; then, you analyze their behaviors and reactions.
Usability testing is a critical step in ensuring that your users have an effective, efficient, and pleasurable experience.
Why Do We Need Usability Testing?
Usability testing is used to identify problematic situations and find ways to improve the user experience.
Usability testing is carried out by real-life users. They are more likely to uncover difficulties that individuals who are already familiar with a website are unaware of; because extensive knowledge usually blinds designers to a product’s usability flaws.
Bringing in fresh users to test your site and seeing how actual people use it is a great strategy to discover whether your visitors are having any problems with your product.
If you skip the usability testing process, your final product might end up having UX design issues.
Usability Testing Methods
There are several ways one can perform usability testing. It could be moderated or unmoderated, in-person or remote. Below I explain four popular types of user testing and when to conduct user testing via each method.
1- Moderated Lab Usability Testing
Lab usability testing is conducted in a controlled location called a laboratory under the supervision of a moderator.
A moderator is a professional who records real-time user comments. Moderators guide test participants through activities, answer their questions and respond to their feedback in real-time throughout a moderated test.
When you require detailed information, lab usability testing is the best option. But since you need to arrange an environment, hire test participants, and a moderator, lab testing can be pricey.
2- Unmoderated Remote Usability Testing
Unmoderated remote usability testing is done without a moderator being present. It provides fast, trustworthy, and low-cost user testing data that you can use for additional research.
The researcher asks participants to perform activities in their own surroundings, using their own devices, and without the presence of a moderator, to see how they use the product naturally. Unmoderated testing is less expensive; nevertheless, the results are less accurate.
When you require a big sample to prove crucial conclusions from your initial moderated research, unmoderated remote usability testing is the ideal option.
3- Guerilla Testing
Guerrilla testing involves selecting test volunteers randomly from a public place, such as a shopping center, airport, or coffee shop. The participants are requested to complete a number of tasks regarding a product on a phone or a laptop. After that, the researcher gives them incentives (such as a gift card or even a cup of coffee) to appreciate their time.
Guerrilla testing is a method for testing with a large group of people who have no prior experience with a product. It’s a fast approach to gathering qualitative data that can be used to validate design aspects or functionality.
People are hesitant or unable to give up more than 5 to 10 minutes of their time. Thus, it’s not the best way for prolonged testing or follow-ups. But it’s great for gathering personal opinions and emotional reactions to ideas and concepts in the early phases of the product development process.
4- Session Recording
Session recording is a technique that uses session recording software to capture actual people’s actions while interacting with a website. Session recording lets you watch your users’ journeys and see what problems they might face while using your product.
How Much Does Usability Testing Cost?
User testing pricing is different for each method. Simple usability tests are quite affordable, however, you will almost always have to pay a few hundred dollars to participants as incentives.
Considering you already know how to perform it and have access to participants and a place to hold the session, the most basic study will take three days to complete:
- Day 1: Make a study plan.
- Day 2: Put users to the test.
- Day 3: Analyze the findings and provide recommendations for the next iteration.
More expensive research is occasionally necessary, and the cost of the most extensive studies can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The costs of usability testing are increased when:
- Various user groups are tested.
- Different designs are tested in a competitive environment.
- Multiple countries are being tested internationally.
- Specialized technology such as eye trackers is used.
- Quantitative research is required.
A Cost-Effective Solution for User Testing: WatchThemLive
As we mentioned earlier, one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways you can perform usability testing is by using session recordings. One of the best tools that include a session recording feature is WatchThemLive.
Session recording software such as WatchThemLive allows you to test new ideas and monitor how people interact with your interface without having to recruit participants, prepare a place, etc.
The session replays feature in WatchThemLive lets you see every move of each visitor on your website so you won’t miss even a click.
You can also filter the recorded sessions by different factors such as country, device, operating system, screen resolution, etc. so that you can reach your desired results as fast as possible.
WatchThemLive offers a free plan with 5,000 session recordings per month, plus unlimited website heatmaps, unlimited goals to track, and unlimited team members.
By upgrading to the pro plan, you’ll get access to up to 50,000 session replays per month at the monthly price of only $19!
If you need more, WatchThemLive has got you covered! Check out the pricing page to see the cost of the advanced and enterprise plans.
Plus, you can save a great amount of money by purchasing annual or lifetime plans.
Make sure to SIGN UP and start your FREE plan right now!
After spending so much time on your user interface, you and your team are fully familiar with its design, functions, different sections, etc. because you, literally, have created it. No matter how much you try to put yourself in your target audience’s shoes, you still won’t understand their exact reaction to your product. That’s why you need to actually have them work with a prototype or mock-up of your product and capture their interactions with it in real-time. That’s what can help you improve your final product. The only problem is that usability testing is a very expensive process.
In this article, we went through the definition of usability testing, its benefits, methods, and user testing prices. Finally, WatchThemLive, a very cost-effective solution for user testing was introduced so that you don’t have to skip this vital step because of its high costs.