You’ve done your market research. You know your customers want your app.
You know there is a need for it.
And people are even downloading it.
But for some reason, no one is using it. Whether you’re building your first app, or your 100th, having people test your app is critical to its success.
Why You Need Users to Test Your App
The problem a developer has when testing their app is the curse of knowledge.
Because you’ve been working on your app for 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 5 months, you’ve become too familiar with it.
In other words, you’re too familiar with the little nuances, subtleties, and workarounds that are required to get your app to work properly.
You know that a script has to be installed between the <head> and </head> of your website. But if that isn’t documented in the instructions, there is no way for your user to know.
You may be using your app on a Windows device in a Chrome browser and it works perfectly fine. However a user on an iOS device using a Safari browser might have a completely different experience.
These little steps and differences that you’ve take for granted, will stop a customer in their tracks from using your app.
In this article, I’m going to show you a number of strategies that you can use to get your web or mobile app tested by real users. These are going to be users who fit within your demographic but have different mobile devices and internet browsers to ensure a seamless customer experience that makes your app easy to use.
So the easiest way to do it is through UserTesting. They have a ready community of testers that can go out there and test your app at an affordable rate.
This is probably the easiest option when trying to find users to test your app. It’s easy because all of the people using this site have the technology needed operate your app and record the data. Also, many of the users have tested several products, so they know exactly what they’re doing, and what to look for as they go through yours.
Here’s how it works:
First, you get to choose who your target market is. UserTesting has a database of over 1 Million people you can access to with just a few simple clicks.
You tell the system who your ideal user is. You can specify criteria such as demographics, region, internet experience, and income.
Next, the users will try out your service on the device that they use most often. This can be a phone, tablet, laptop, or even a desktop.
UserTesting will record a video that shows the users using your app. You will be able to view their mouse movements, keyboard strokes, and even their facial expressions (assuming their camera is operational).
Finally, UserTesting will give you a report on where your users got stuck and frustrated. You’ll be able to see the bottlenecks, and have actionable data that can help you redesign a feature, onboarding process, and customer experience.
UserTesting starts at $49 per video for up to 10 videos.
- Video and audio of your site or app being used
- Test on computers, phones, and tablets
- 15 minute maximum video length
- 25 video storage limit
If you find a full service site like UserTesting to be a bit expensive, you can turn to a myriad of freelancer marketplaces to help you find users.
These are sites like Upwork and Freelancer.com.
With sites like Upwork and Freelancer.com, you’re going to source applicants that are mostly offshore in places like the Philippines.
By using offshore talent, we’re able to cut our budget in half, but it is entirely up to you. If you have the funds to source US applicants (or if you’re looking for a specific country), then you are better off using UserTesting.
However, we’ve had great success using freelancer marketplaces to get user data. Here’s how we do it:
2. Using Upwork to Find Users
Upwork is the largest online freelancer marketplace. You can find virtual assistants to complete a wide array of jobs from design, to development and user testing.
As you can see in the image below, I’ve created a project to test an Android app. The headline of the job listing says: “Test Android app – Quick 10-20 minute Test”.
I put a budget of $20 and for that budget I’ve now got, within a few hours, 10 applicants for this.
In the job post, I don’t give the exact step-by-step description of what it is that I want the freelancer to do. I keep this job listing as simple as possible. Once I interview and select the candidate, I’ll then describe in full detail what I want them to do, and what my goals for the test are.
I’ll ask the applicants to take note of where they are getting stuck. Are they able to use the features that we have built? Are they able to easily log in and get started? Or do we need to create a knowledge base to give further instructions?
Unlike UserTesting where you have access to a full suite of analytics and analyzing data points, Upwork doesn’t provide that level of insight. This means we are reliant on the direct feedback of the user.
3. Using Freelancer.com to Find Users
Because we want to get as much variety as possible with our testing, we want to source freelancers from a different talent pool.
As they say, “variety is the spice of life.”
Freelancer.com is a direct competitor of Upwork, but it helps you achieve the same goal: Outsource tasks to freelancers at affordable prices.
After we find freelancers on Upwork, we will turn to a site like Freelancer.com and repeat the process above.
Once again, we will set a budget of $20 per user to have them test it:
And as you can see, so far I’ve got 4 bids and ranging from $10 to $25 from Freelancer.
Just like Upwork, we are going to ask them to record videos of their phone as they go through our app on their device.
4. Using Fiverr to Find Users
The online marketplace where everything is just $5.
When you need to test your app fast and cheap, there is no place quite like Fiverr.
Here’s how it works: First, you enter the phrase “Android App Testing” in the search bar. (Note, if you need an iOS app tested, make the adjustments as needed.)
Then, search for a few testers with good reviews and who meet your testing criteria.
Finally, upload your project requirements to the Fiverr system and within a few days your app will be tested and a review written.
While Fiverr can be the ultimate crapshoot for finding designers, programmers, and writers, hiring people to test the usability of your mobile app can be a much easier proposition.
You will be able to uncover bugs, and discover issues with onboarding your users. The only caveat is that if you’re building an app for businesses, there is a strong likelihood that your tester is not in your target demographic.
5. Using Craigslist to Find Users
Job boards like Craigslist offer a big opportunity to find people to test your application.
However, because of the nature of the job board, you may require a bit more scrutiny when looking over applications.
See, unlike the freelancer marketplaces where you post jobs to a community, on Craigslist, your post is open to anyone with an internet connection.
You will need to be extremely clear on the expectations and criteria that you’re looking for when you place your ad.
And you will need to dedicate some time to filter through the many applications that you receive for your work.
In Person Labor
One of the best ways to watch people use your app is in person. Here are two ways to do this:
TaskRabbit is the premier in person, local freelance marketplace in the United States. And having someone local use your app will give you an entirely new perspective on its usability.
TaskRabbit usually has jobs that are done locally, that means in your specific area around the US.
So they do have a lot of US people on the platform but they do do things remotely as well.
You can get user testing done for a budget of $20 per user. (Note: From the perspective of the freelancer, a site like usertesting.com and Taskrabbit are essentially the same. Even though you pay usertesting.com $49 per user, the freelancer will only receive $20.)
Luckily, these local marketplaces have appeared in several different countries. Since I’m in Australia, my options for local marketplaces are Airtasker and Sidekicker.
7. Turn Your Coffee Shop Into a Testing Platform
One of the most overlooked places to find users to test your app is the places where you most frequent: for instance, a coffee shop.
A coffee shop has a wide array of customers that for a free cup of coffee would be willing to try your app and give you a live review while they wait for their beverage to be made.
You can identify people by age and gender, followed by a quick survey to see if they have kids, what their career is, and the kind of car they drive.
This can give you insight into the type of person they are and you can see if they fit within your target demographic.
Finally, give them your app to test and watch their reaction and listen to their feedback as they navigate various features and onboarding.
These are three different strategies that you can use to help you find users to test the functionality and usability of your web or mobile app.
Whether you use a full service suite like usertesting.com, a freelancer marketplace like Upwork and Freelancer, or a local marketplace like TaskRabbit, you’ll be able to affordably find users for your app that will give you much better insight into the user experience.