Is UserTesting.com a legit user testing site worth signing up for?
If you are looking to become a freelance usability tester, chances are that UserTesting.com is the very first platform that pops up during your search. It is, after all, the most commonly used and well-known of all user testing platforms.
However, the online reviews of UserTesting are mixed – some testers are truly impressed with the service and the earning opportunities, while some participants call UserTesting.com a downright scam. The truth, as usual, is to be found somewhere in the middle.
Let it be said right away that while UserTesting.com does have its flaws, it is NOT a scam. UserTesting is a legitimate site that can provide a little extra income for almost anyone with a computer, some spare time, and basic English capabilities. That being said, to maximize their earning opportunities, there are some things new test participants should know before signing up to UserTesting.
In this UserTesting review, we will give a quick overview of how UserTesting works, what it takes to get started, and how much you can potentially earn as a usability tester at UserTesting.com.
What is UserTesting.com?
UserTesting.com is a usability testing platform established in 2007 by Darrell Benatar and Dave Garr. As of 2021, UserTesting supports conducting tests on all types of products including (but not limited to) websites, mobile apps, and desktop software. In a nutshell, UserTesting works with pretty much any product where the main goal is to deliver a user-friendly and efficient experience.
In 2021, UserTesting is considered one of the most well-known and trusted out of all usability testing platforms. To give you an idea of the scale of operation of UserTesting, let’s look at some statistics:
- UserTesting conducted 1.4m tests in total in 2020
- UserTesting has more than 130,000 testers on their panel
- Tests have been taken in more than 40 languages.
- Among the client list of UserTesting, we can find companies like Adobe, Samsung, and Ford just to name a few.
These statistics show us that UserTesting truly is a behemoth in the world of usability testing.
But, how about the perspective of a tester? Do the stellar reputation and massive popularity of UserTesting mean that it also offers a similarly great experience for a freelance usability tester?
First, let’s examine how the testing process of UserTesting actually works.
How does UserTesting work?
To make their products and services as efficient and user-friendly as possible, companies need to test their products with large amounts of unbiased people. This is where freelance usability testers such as yourself come in. Your feedback is valued precisely BECAUSE you have no prior awareness of the software, website, or app that you are testing.
Now that you have an understanding of the principles of UserTesting.com, allow me to get a bit more specific and explain the process of signing up and earning money from this usability platform:
- Sign up. This is your first step towards becoming a paid user tester. Just enter an e-mail address you use and wait for an invite to a practice test.
- Complete the practice test. Before you will start receiving paid tests, you will have to complete a practice test. Do not be intimidated by this test – the main idea here is to test your equipment and your understanding of English. As a bonus, it will also give you some practical sense of what usability testing is about. While we are on the subject of the practice test, feel free to check out a video example of a UserTesting practice test: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVag4mLiRss
- Wait for your practice test to be approved. After you submit your practice test, UserTesting will review the test and send you the results in a couple of days. Generally speaking, disqualifications are very rare if you understand the tasks and your equipment is up to par. Speaking of equipment – make sure the audio you record is clear! Poor audio is by far the most common reason for a disqualified practice test.
- Complete your profile. After your practice test gets approved, you will be asked to complete your profile. Once again, allow me to remind you that it is of utmost importance to fully complete your profile.
- Start receiving invites to tests. In addition to having to complete your profile, UserTesting will also acquire you to go through some screener questions before you can access the test. This is not to annoy or scam you, it is merely a way to ensure that you are indeed suited to the test you are about to partake in. Screening tests might seem like an annoyance (especially if you end up getting rejected), but they are actually useful for the tester as well. Once you are approved for the test, the chances that your work will be disqualified (and not paid) are nearly zero.
Can you really make money on UserTesting?
Yes, it is possible to earn a legitimate side income on UserTesting. The platform would not be such a popular choice among freelance usability testers if it would be a scam. However, if you think of usability testing as a golden ticket to quick and easy money, you will be disappointed.
The amount you can potentially earn in UserTesting.com is determined by 3 key variables:
- Demographics. You will not be demographically qualified for every test that becomes available. This has nothing to do with how diligently you are willing to work, your experience as a freelance usability tester, or your tester rating. Thus, there is always a bit of luck involved with how much you can make on UserTesting.com
- Your tester rating. This is the variable that is entirely under your control. Do not expect a lot of tests immediately after signing up to UserTesting. But, when the chance comes, make the most out of it and start providing high-quality feedback from the very first test. Over time, your rating and your earning opportunities will grow. For concrete tips on how to grow your tester rating, feel free to read our article “Becoming a Paid User Tester in 7 Steps”.
- Client demand. UserTesting is the biggest player of all usability testing platforms. And, the demand for their services is generally very high. Still, the amount of your work as a usability tester always comes down to the needs of customers of UserTesting.com. Fewer clients for UserTesting, fewer tests to be distributed and conducted. More clients for UserTesting, more tests to be distributed and conducted.
With that being said, the opportunities to make some extra money are there. Provided that you are willing to put in some time and effort.
To give you some idea of what to expect, let’s examine the official rates offered by UserTesting.com:
- $4 for every 5-minute test
- $10 for every 20-minute test
- Between $30 to $120 for participating in live interviews
If UserTesting.com is your first experience as a usability tester, try to enter the game with the mindset that you are in this for the long haul. As an example, one new tester of UserTesting.com reported earning $10 per month for the first two months. Then, all of the sudden, the user earned $110 a week.
Of course, this is just one example, always remember the 3 variables – demographics, client demand, and your tester rating. Still, when I compare my own experiences with those of other reviewers, a pattern emerges – you will earn little to nothing at first, but eventually, things pick up. Apparently, slow and steady does indeed win the race. At least when it comes to succeeding as a usability tester.
Pros & cons of UserTesting.com
Now it’s time to sum up the main advantages and disadvantages of UserTesting.
From what we’ve seen, these are the main benefits of UserTesting:
- Great payment system. The payments of UserTesting.com are processed to your PayPal account 7 days after the day of your test – a major plus considering that most online usability testing platforms process their payments monthly or twice each month. It is also worth noting that I have not had a single experience involving delayed or incomplete payments.
- Professional and quick customer service. While technical issues are not common, I have had two or three technical hiccups as a usability tester at UserTesting.com – all of them involving uploading a completed test. I reported the issues to the customer service of UserTesting.com and everything was dealt with in a timely and professional manner. Online reviewers of UserTesting have also noted that in some cases testers have received an unfairly low rating from the client of UserTesting. In such cases, UserTesting will review the test again and fix the rating if it is indeed given unfairly. All things considered, the customer service aspect of UserTesting is great for both the client and the freelance usability tester.
- Beginner-friendly platform. The process of signing up to UserTesting is efficient, beginner-friendly, and professional. The practice test is well-explained and comes with equipment recommendations, tips, and even a video example of a practice test taken. Even if you are entirely new to usability testing, UserTesting will provide you with all the information needed to succeed in this platform.
On the other hand, UserTesting does also come with some disadvantages:
- Technical issues.
Some usability testers have encountered technical issues with uploading the tests and reporting bugs. This is uncommon, but not unheard of. This can be extremely frustrating after doing your best and fully completing the test. But, as I previously mentioned, the customer service goes out of their way to make sure everything works out in the end. Just make sure to contact UserTesting if something goes south. You will likely be offered compensation for unsolvable technical issues not caused by the usability tester.
- It can take time to receive your first tests.
Depending on your demographic background and the current needs of the clients of UserTesting, it can take a month, two weeks, or only a day to get your first tests. For someone who prefers consistency, a side gig as a usability tester might not be the best fit. However, if you go in with realistic expectations, you just might be pleasantly surprised. Sure, there is a lot of negative noise about usability testing online. But, from my experience, most of this noise is either from other testers trying to scare off competition or people with expectations of starting to earn immediately.
Testing opportunities are scarce for non-English speakers. Considering that UserTesting.com is a truly worldwide service, I expected a bit more usability testing opportunities for non-English speakers. It is possible to become a paid usability tester without speaking English, but you are going to need a lot of patience and luck. At least if UserTesting.com is going to be your platform of choice.
Conclusion: is UserTesting.com legit?
UserTesting.com is definitely a legitimate website that could be very useful to you if you are looking to earn a little extra in your spare time. It is one of the most reliable, beginner-friendly, and widely-used usability testing platforms for people looking to earn money by conducting tests.
That being said, a little common sense goes a long way in this job. UserTesting.com (or any usability testing platform for that matter) is not a quick cash grab. Quite the opposite – you are likely to start very slow and work your way up over time. If you are willing to put in the time and effort, it can become a profitable and interesting side job for anyone interested in improving the usability of websites, apps, and software.