Usertesting dot com

8 07 2009

I recently tried out Usertesting.com for the first time. Have to say that I’m pretty impressed, for the most part. For those unfamiliar with the site, it is a quick and dirty usability testing service that allows you to request users for a specific site. Users reply to your “ad” and then record a ~20 min video of their screen while they use the site. You get screen vid and audio, as well as a short written feedback piece.

Positives: The interface for setting up the parameters for a test is incredibly intuitive and easy to use. Once you have launched a test, you then have a dashboard page that allows you to quickly launch ‘similar’ tests. This feature is critical, as many of the parameters are mutually exclusive. This means that if you want to guarantee an even spilt of male/female users for the site you are testing, you actually need to set up two tests, and specify male users for one, and female users for the other. 

The results are amazing. Within a day I had completed tests from 2 users and both were incredibly articulate and informative. 

Drawbacks: It is not very easy to stipulate exactly who it is you are looking for. You’re basically recruiting from a very high-level, general perspective, and while that’s fine for most of my purposes, I’m hoping that they improve these limitations quickly, so I can put all the demo data in front of my clients. 

I recommend this product, but not highly yet. They have some more work to do, but I’m hopeful.

Please leave a comment or question if you are interested in hearing more about my thoughts on this product.





Online Newspaper Charges

1 05 2009

One of the news stories of late that has really caught my attention (and incensed me) is the notion that the online versions of newspapers need to charge for access to content.

There’s a fantastic article here that destroys the argument that charges would cover the cost of lost advertising revenue:

http://www.niemanlab.org/2009/04/paying-for-online-news-sorry-but-the-math-just-doesnt-work/

But on top of that, I just read this comment in an article on Reuters:

“If that happens someone else will find a way to provide that news for free,” said Jonathan Marcus, a former editor of Boston Magazine who teaches journalism at Boston College.

“Once a newspaper begins to charge for content, people will begin to read another newspaper. And once all the newspapers begin to charge for content, someone else will find a way to furnish content for free.”

The beauty (or sometimes curse) of the Internet is that there’s always someone else out there willing to either improve upon an existing idea or offer up something completely novel. And the sad fact is that the newspapers and their decision makers seem oblivious to this aphorism.

So, I say go ahead newspapers. Charge for your stupid sites. See what happens. And while you’re at it, bang your heads against a wall for a few days – maybe that will generate an idea or two. It certainly can’t make you dumber…