Whether it’s generative or evaluative, we do some form of user testing on just about every project we do. Most times, we’ve planned a round of testing from the beginning, and we have ample time to prepare testing protocols, stimuli, and capture frameworks. But…sometimes, we don’t! And sometimes, we discover we need to do a bit of testing but we don’t have the time or budget to do a traditional usability study.
We had a little between-project time in our Chicago office, so we decided to look for alternatives to traditional lab-based and/or formal-recruit usability testing. We eventually arrived at a solution that is extremely fast and cheap: We ran over 550 individual usability tests over the course of a couple of days at a recruiting cost of just over $100.
We chose to use Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (mTurk) microtask system for our recruit, and we rolled our own code using a couple different analytics products (there are lots of good out-of-the-box options out there, but we wanted to see what we could make on our own). We posted a fake product sign-up form that included some common UI elements and asked potential users to complete the form using their own data. After we concluded each test, we evaluated the data, iterated on our design and reposted to see if our changes had improved our usability metrics.
After running many tests, we’ve learned some interesting things that will inform our future design of elements like country dropdowns. However, the real value of this experience is that we made and refined a process we can now use to test a particular design choice with hundreds of potential users for less than the cost of a team lunch in about the time it would take to eat it.
We invite you to take a look at InformedUX — we’ve posted details about the first few tests we ran, as well as detailed notes on how we designed our system. We’re pausing our current round of tests (client work calls!), but our testing platform is still open, so if you have any ideas, send them to us on Twitter: @momentdesign and use the hashtag, #informedUX.
This post was originally published on Moment’s Medium publication, Design Intelligence.