Follow these seven steps to start making money as a website usability tester.
The internet is a big place. With so many websites out there, it’s hard to know which ones are good and which ones aren’t. That’s where website usability testers come in!
To make sure their sites are as functional and well-designed as possible, web designers need large pools of feedback from real people on their sites. By real people, I am referring to the people who will interact with the finished website.
After all, the success or failure of a given website is ultimately determined by the experience of the average customer.
This is precisely what makes feedback from an unbiased usability tester invaluable. Large amounts of data gathered by usability tests can be used to improve the end-customer perspective.
So, the demand for remote usability testers is growing without any signs of slowing down. But, how to start?
This article will answer this question by outlining everything you need to become a paid user tester. Along the way, we will also provide some tips on how to maximize your earnings, prepare for tests, and grow the number of test invitations you get.
Without further ado, here are the 7 steps needed to become paid website usability tester:
- Gather the equipment needed to conduct usability tests
- Choose one or more user testing sites to work with
- Apply to the chosen user testing sites
- Complete practice tests
- Wait to receive your first test assignments
- Start conducting usability tests on websites
- Get paid for your work
1. Gather the equipment needed to conduct usability tests
As we already established, most websites want their tests to be conducted by representatives of the general population. Thus, the so-called “Average Joe” is the ideal candidate for testing the usability of websites. This means that when it comes to required equipment, one does not need an equivalent of a NASA supercomputer to become a paid usability tester.
If you are reading this, it is likely that you already own sufficient equipment for getting started. Still, to get more specific, have a look at the standard gear needed to become a usability tester:
- Computer – Obviously, you will need a working computer to conduct usability tests. To give you an idea of hardware needed, have a look at the minimum requirements for the practice test of UserTesting, one of the most popular usability testing platforms currently operating.
- Internet connection – The average internet speed in the United States is 99.3Mbps. And, you can easily become a paid website usability tester with much, much less. Thus, you probably already have sufficient speed for conducting usability tests successfully. To quickly test your connection, feel free to head over to Speedtest. It is a free resource for quickly determining your connection speeds.
- Microphone – High-quality audio is of the essence when it comes to usability testing. Luckily, most common headphones with built-in microphones will do the job. If you currently have no audio hardware at all, here is a piece of inexpensive audio gear officially recommended by UserTesting.
Now that you have your gear all set up, it is time to choose the user testing websites most suited to your goals.
2. Choose one or more user testing sites to work with
Among the most popular user testing websites are UserTesting.com, TryMyUI.com and UserFeel.com. But, there are many, many more user testing websites online. And, there are no limits to how many you choose to commit to. In the end, it all comes down to your own goals and time limitations.
For a detailed list (with quick reviews) of user testing websites recommended by Analysia, read our article on the 10 best user testing websites.
Be aware that some user testing companies are scams. Usability testing scams are uncommon, but not unheard of. So, be sure to do your research before committing to a certain website. If there is one golden rule that immediately reveals a fake user testing website, it is this – if you are asked to pay anything or provide sensitive credit card information, it is a scam.
3. Apply to the chosen user testing sites
The process of applying for popular user testing websites is relatively straightforward. You will be asked to submit a form containing the following:
- Your full name
- Contact information
- Devices you will use for testing
- Preferred payment method
- A username/password of your selection.
In a nutshell, nothing unfamiliar to anyone who has ever signed up for any website. Please note, however, that most user testing websites will also ask for some of your key demographic details.
Commonly asked demographic details are as follows:
- Fluently spoken/native languages
- Family status
- Web experience
Some user testing websites have the additional option of getting a bit more specific and also providing the site with your annual income, employment status, education level, etc.
All of the above is to put together to create a profile of you as a tester. Thus, the correlation here is simple – as much information as you will give the site, the more tests you will receive.
This is why I would recommend giving out as much information as possible. Another suggestion – never lie on your application!
For example, you might be tempted to exaggerate your web experience to receive more niche/higher-paying tests. This
will not work simply because your feedback will be too vague and your answers will not get a high rating. Thus, you will also receive fewer tests in the future.
Plus, there’s no guarantee that a higher web experience even results in more tests – oftentimes companies who buy usability tests are looking for inexperienced testers to paint a real picture of the standard user. Stay honest, and you’ll have the best chances of success.
4. Complete practice tests
Most usability testing websites will want you to complete a practice test before you will start receiving paid tests. The main idea behind the sample test is to see whether the equipment you are using is up to par with the requirements of the site. For example, you might be asked to record an audio of yourself reading a sentence provided by the user testing site.
This also takes us to the number one reason participants fail at sample tests – poor audio. For an in-depth guide on how
to make sure the audio of your device is as crisp as possible, feel free to read this article by Headphonesty. There, you will find professional software recommendations and other advice for getting the most out of your mic.
In addition to checking the equipment, the practice tests usually also come with simple usability testing tasks. As a concrete example, a practice usability test might ask you to find some information from a website of a service provider – opening times, services offered, etc.
Take note that these tasks will not affect your tester rating (which will determine the frequency and the nature of tests assigned to you) in any manner.
5. Wait to receive your first test assignments
After making sure your equipment is up to par and successfully completing your practice test(s), you are probably eager to start earning right away.
Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that you will start receiving invitations to tests immediately. When it comes to getting paid to test websites, the old saying “all good things come to those who wait” is more than relevant. Beginners getting invitations on the same day of signing up are not unheard of, but it is very uncommon.
Thus, I often hear about people signing up for various usability testing websites, not getting any test invitations on the first week, and then loudly proclaiming the whole thing to be a data mining scam.
If you have the free time, I would suggest signing up for multiple trustworthy sites, enabling your notifications, and fully completing your demographic profile on each site. It is still not a guarantee of speeding up the flow of tests offered, but it can stack the chances in your favor.
It is next to impossible to give an estimate on how long it takes to start receiving your first tests. But, if I compare my own experience with that of online usability testing site reviewers, 1-2 weeks seems just about the average time a new usability tester gets an invitation to the first test.
In a nuthsell – patience, patience, and more patience!
6. Start conducting usability tests on websites
Web and app usability testing comes in many forms. But, the type of usability testing we are focusing on today is called remote usability testing. As you might have guessed, this is the form of usability testing with no strict geographic requirements for the usability tester.
Remote usability testing can further be broken down into the following two categories:
- Moderated website usability testing. Here, the client of a usability testing platform is in direct communication with you (the usability tester). The client will lead you through the testing process, while also observing your all-around communication (your body language, verbal feedback, etc.) with the website or the app. Moderated website usability testing is more commonly used in more complex tests. Thus, moderated usability tests tend to pay more when compared to unmoderated tests.
- Unmoderated website usability testing. This is the form of website usability testing beginners are most likely to start with. Unmoderated website usability testing has many benefits for both the client and the usability tester. It is cheaper to conduct, offers a larger pool of data, and has no strict time/date/geographic limitations for the user tester.
If you are new to testing website usability, you will most likely get invitations to unmoderated tests at the start. To give you an idea of what to expect, here is an example of an unmoderated website usability test:
Setting: Hotel A wants to determine how quickly and efficiently an average customer can book a room at their website.
Task: To determine the functionality of the website, the usability tester has to find and booking a room that allows pets.
With no prior knowledge of the hotel or the website, the usability tester must then find all of the sufficient information. During this process, the tester also records all of her/his thoughts via audio/video. Was it easy to find the information without contacting the hotel directly? Is the site too cluttered? Are the fonts easy to read?”
A large pool of feedback such as this provides invaluable data for the client of a usability testing platform. Thus, the more specific you get, the better your test will be received. And, as we already established, a higher ranking will ultimately lead to more test invites and earning opportunities.
7. Get paid for your work
Now that you have received your first tests and done your best with providing valuable feedback, it is finally time to get paid for your work. Most sites acquire the test you submitted to be approved before you will get paid. Do not worry, though, as long as you do your best and your gear is up to par, disqualifications are very rare.
But, before we wrap up this article, allow me to explain some more details about the payment system of usability testing websites. The preferred method of payment for usability testing websites is PayPal.
Roughly 7 out of 10 testing websites you sign up to will have PayPal as their preferred payment option. So, better make sure to have a PayPal account before you start your website usability testing side hustle.
Some reliable sites also offer to process the payments via Payoneer. Direct bank transfers are very rarely offered for remote usability testers.
On average, a beginner can expect about $10-$20/per 10-20 minute test. Again, the concrete sums paid out will be largely dependent on many variables. How often the payments are processed is different for each website. Some usability testing websites offer monthly payments, while some prefer to process their payments 2 times each month.
Some sites also acquire you to earn a certain amount before you can withdraw. Not to worry, though. This amount will usually be reached after completing a single test.
This is it – you’ve now gone through the entire step-by-step process of becoming a paid usability tester. There’s really nothing to it – the most painful part is waiting for new test requests to come in. Other than that, if you follow the steps covered here, you should be all ready to succeed in this industry.