The best usability testing hack for B2C startups

By Shaun Symm, November 12, 2019
Woman user testing a mobile app

Usability testing is so important for any application development project.

Unfortunately many early stage startups often decide to skip testing (apart from internal testing by founders and developers) and go straight to market.

That presents a lost opportunity to uncover bugs, UX issues, get user feedback and the potential to open up a new distribution channel.

Here's a super cheap hack for early stage startups to test their web and mobile apps prior to officially launching. You'll not only get great feedback using this method but you might get your first users too.

Outsourced usability testing

The hack requires you posting a task on an outsourcing platform like Airtasker. If you're an Australian startup and your market is global from day 1 Airtasker is now also available in the UK and in Ireland (or you could use TaskRabbit in the USA / UK).

Your post for application testers should detail what you require from the tester. Essentially you need to provide a testing script and other requirements.

For example, you'll need to highlight:

  • demographics you need your testers to be in. For example, "22 - 36 year old females". You might not be able to get too detailed on this requirement so if your startup requires a highly defined target audience then this method might not be suitable for you.
  • technology requirements the tester needs to have. For example, Must have an iPhone 8 or up. You might not need to state much here if you are testing a web application.
  • what task you want them to complete in the app. For example, For a real estate marketplace you might ask the user to start at the homepage, find a specific property, like it, create an account and then submit a contact form. Don't tell them how to do it. Just tell them what the goals are that they should achieve.
  • what success looks like and what failure looks like. Remember, this isn't only user testing. You want these people to become advocates for your startup. Ensure they understand what failure looks like and how they can ensure they avoid it to get paid in full for completing the task.
  • part of completing the task requires them either answering a survey or having a call with the founder to discuss their experience. You need to get helpful feedback from them. Actionable insights are critical.

Cost of usability testing

While this is a cost effective hack for usability testing be sure to pay your taskers properly and fairly as your startup's reputation depends on it.

While there isn't a specific price guideline to this it seems that usability testing tasks on Airtasker Australia range from $20 for 30 minute tasks up to $50 for 1 hour.

A new marketing channel

As a startup you'll no doubt want to get as much bang for your buck. So while this is a cost effective method for getting real user feedback you can take it a bit further.

There are 2 things you can do to get extra mileage out of this usability testing hack.

  1. Promote the task on social media channels:
    For example, join Facebook groups that are highly relevant to the target market your startup serves. Then, post a link to your task on Airtasker in the group promoting the task and say you are looking for people to test your new product. It's a great way of getting the word out about your product without it looking like self promotion.
  2. Get taskers to promote your app:
    As part of the task, you might want to offer your taskers the opportunity to earn extra money by posting about your startup to their own social channels (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook). If they enjoyed using your application during testing, and feel that they might become a regular user, then paying them to post about their experience, or the app, is a great way to get distribution. Looking at similar tasks, this will set you back an extra $5. You might want to ensure that the tasker does have a decent number of followers on their social channel and you'll want to ensure they give you proof of posting.

There are many companies and products that offer usability testing for websites, mobile apps, startups and other applications. This is just one method to test.

If you've used this method before please get in touch. We'd love to hear about your results.

Photo by Freestocks on Unsplash

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