Usability Testing Jobs: Get Paid To Think Out Loud
Chances are, you spend a lot of time online. You probably read the news, check your email, do some shopping and give status updates to friends and family. And this familiarity with browsing the Internet and navigating websites can actually translate into some extra cash each month. Seriously. As far as work at home opportunities go, this is one of my favorites
Usability Testing for User Testing
- Sign Up Process: Easy
- Pay Rate : $10.00 for website tests, $15.00 for mobile tests, $3.00 for “peek” tests
- Availability of Work: Varies
- Income Type: Supplemental; >$500/monthly
All sorts of companies want to know what we, as Internet users, do while navigating their sites. They want to know what makes us click on certain links, abandon our shopping carts and our general likes and dislikes about their sites. Why? Because it gives them the opportunity to improve the points that are confusing and promote the things that are working well.
Since companies want to know so badly what we’re all thinking while we’re browsing their sites, they’re willing to pay for those thoughts.
And so usability testing companies were born. These companies recruit people like you and me to “think out loud” while we’re browsing websites. This information is then relayed to companies, giving them valuable insight into our personal thoughts and experiences while visiting their online spaces.
How does it work?
As a tester, you literally have to think out loud while visiting a website. When given a task, you’re expected to complete it while talking about your thoughts/feelings/experiences, good or bad, as they happen. You need to be honest and point out things you like as well as things that are frustrating and confusing. But perhaps, I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning.
How to get paid to test websites
There are a number of different companies offering usability testing jobs Each of them operate a bit differently, but the premise is typically the same: record people’s thoughts as they complete tasks online.
My personal favorite usability testing site is User Testing. They’ve been around for a while, are highly reputable and have never, ever been late with payments. Plus, they’re so upstanding that, if you happen to accept a test that you cannot complete due to their error, they’ll still pay you $5.00 for it. How awesome is that?
Technical requirements for User Testing
Before you jump into the User Testing waters, make sure you meet the criteria to become a tester:
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Have a PC or Mac (Mac OS X 10.7 or higher)
- Broadband internet connection
- Able to download and use the User Testing screen recorder (more on that later)
- Comfortable filling out a demographics info sheet
Signing up as a usability tester
User Testing has a relatively easy sign-up process. If you meet the requirements above and you’re interested in becoming a tester, head on over to their sign-up page. There, you’ll enter your email address to start the process.
Don’t panic! The sample test is just to ensure that you have a clear speaking voice, are comfortable speaking out loud while browsing a site, and can actually provide valuable feedback and not just describe what you see on your screen.
Install the User Testing screen recorder
When you’re ready, confirm your email address by following the link in the email you were sent and proceed to the second step in the sign up process: Installing the screen recorder.
The User Testing screen recorder is the application that actually records your voice as you speak out loud while testing sites. It also captures your screen and mouse movements as you’re performing tasks. So if you have something personal open, be sure to close it before you begin recording! Anything that you see on your screen will be recorded by the User Testing screen recorder.
Note: The User Testing screen recorder DOES NOT record your face. There are some usability testing jobs that do require your entire face to be recorded while testing, User Testing is not one of them. They’re only concerned with what’s on your screen and what you have to say.
Here, you’ll be required to download and install the User Testing screen recorder. If you’re using an external microphone, i.e., one not built into your computer, now is the time to plug it in! Go ahead and click the “Download Screen Recorder” button to begin the installation process.
Be sure to follow all the instructions carefully on the User Testing Recorder Plugin Setup Wizard, doing so will put you one step closer to earning money each month!
Record Your Sample Video
Now that you’ve successfully installed the screen recorder, you’re ready to do your sample test. Go ahead and move onto the next screen.
Before you begin, I’d recommend viewing the Applicant’s Sample Video. Your sample test will be viewed and, if approved, you’ll be able to start accepting paid tests! So, give yourself a better understanding of the process and view the sample video. Apply the techniques in the video to your sample and you should be fine. Take a deep breath, and when you’re ready, click on the Launch the Recorder button.
The sample test
At this point, the screen recorder is testing to make sure that it can actually capture your voice. So you’ll need to say the following in a loud, clear voice, “I’m ready to think out loud.” (Technically, you can say whatever you’d like, you just need to say something loudly enough so that it registers on the volume meter.)
If your microphone is working, you’ll see green bars illuminate when you speak. If not, you won’t see anything happen. Typically, if you don’t see any green bars, you need to select a different microphone from the drop-down menu. This is especially true if you’re using an external microphone–sometimes it’s not automatically selected as the default device.
Once your voice does register, you’ll be able to select “Yes,” where it says, “Do you see the volume meter moving when you talk?”
Note: If you’re not speaking loudly enough or your microphone isn’t registering, you won’t be able to move onto the next step. It’s only when the screen recorder registers your voice will selecting “Yes” become an option.
After you’ve tested your microphone, you’re read to begin performing the tasks that are part of your sample test. You’ll be presented a screen that gives you the “Scenario – mindset for the test.”
Keeping the scenario in mind while testing is key. The scenario gives you the mindset you’ll need to keep while performing each of the tasks in your test. For example, if your scenario is something like, “Imagine you’re shopping for a birthday gift for a coworker,” but you’re talking about the frustration of finding a picture to hang in your living room, you’re not actually taking on the mindset of the scenario and will likely find your video is not received well.
After you understand the scenario and feel comfortable testing, you can accept the test. You’ll see a rectangle box pop up in the right-hand corner of your screen. This will remind you of the scenario you’ll be testing, present your tasks to you and help you navigate through the test.
This is important. Do not skim over anything that this rectangle says! Once you’ve read the scenario and any instructions presented in the rectangle, you’ll click on the right arrow and see the “countdown” letting you know that recording is about to start.
Relax. Be yourself. And have fun!
During your sample test, make sure you speak clearly, avoid long pauses and follow the step by step directions. The rectangle in the top right-hand corner of your screen will guide you through the process. It will provide instructions on what tasks need to be performed during each step. Once you’ve completed one, you can move onto the next and so on and so forth until you’re done! Don’t rush, but don’t take an excessive amount of time either.
Note: The sample test is only about five minutes whereas typical tests will take you between 15 and 20 minutes to complete. You don’t get paid for your sample test, but you should hear back fairly quickly whether or not you were accepted and able to take paid tests.
When you’ve completed all of your sample tasks, your video will automatically begin to upload. You’ll see a new window pop up that monitors the progress of your upload — do not close that window until it tells you to do so! When it says upload is complete, you may close the window. Now you wait for your test to be reviewed.
After the sample
So, you’ve just uploaded your sample video. Now what? You patiently wait to hear whether or not you’ve been accepted to take paid tests! I cannot guarantee that everyone will be accepted, but most people report having been accepted within a short amount of time. Again, your acceptance as a paid tester depends on the quality of your sample video and your type-written answers.
Making the most out of User Testing
If you’re looking to supplement your income each month, usability testing jobs may be perfect for you. Although the number of jobs available at any given time fluctuates, I’ve been able to average about $150.00 per month for the last two years. Keep in mind, that equals just about three tests per week. If there are more tests available and you have availability to complete them successfully, you could certainly make more.
Have a question? Leave it in the comments below. I’m always here to help!