Click here to close now.

Welcome!

@MicroservicesE Blog Authors: Pat Romanski, Lori MacVittie, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, XebiaLabs Blog

Related Topics: @MicroservicesE Blog, Java IoT, Microsoft Cloud, Open Source Cloud, IoT User Interface, Cloud Security

@MicroservicesE Blog: Article

Crowdsourcing Your Way to Usability Testing

Crowdsourcing services can provide feedback on the cheap

Software developers and service providers need a period of usability testing before launch to find out how the product stands up in the hands of end users. An experienced QA team will ferret out bugs and identify major issues, but they won't use your software like a customer will. The value of focus testing is not up for debate, but the way you run it most definitely is.

How Does It Work?
Crowdsourcing-based usability testing services is an emerging niche and you'll find a choice of online services capable of delivering valuable information on your product's usability. Try My UI and User Testing are two good examples and they both offer the chance to see potential customers using your software in real-world conditions. The pricing varies, but you're looking at $35 to $39 per tester for a single test and there are discounts for bulk orders.

You provide the software and a set of instructions and the testers complete the task you set out in their own homes. Their computer screens are recorded so you can see exactly what they are doing and they provide a running audio commentary to explain their thought process. This is a fantastic way to get detailed feedback and immediately identify any usability issues that you may have overlooked. Each video has a maximum time limit of 20 minutes.

Benefits over Traditional Usability Testing
The key benefit is obviously the cost savings, because traditional usability testing is very expensive. Crowdsourcing is actually superior in other ways as well. The turnaround is incredibly fast; you can get same-day results, potentially even within an hour, which would be impossible if you were setting up a series of tests with a focus group in a lab setting. You can also get feedback 24/7 so if time is a factor, or you want to enact quick changes and test again, you can do so.

Consider also the benefit of having testers who are for the most part working from home and therefore relaxed and without expectations. The process of coming into an unfamiliar setting for a test can actually skew the results. With this kind of online testing you are really getting as close to an end-user experience as possible.

What's the Downside?
No solution is ever perfect and so it's important to mention a couple of limitations. This kind of testing in 20-minute chunks is best suited to examining how users interact with a menu or interface system, or how they perform a relatively simple task with your software. There isn't time to go into any great depth.

You also have to consider the demographic you need. You'll find the option to choose an age range, average household income, country, gender, level of expertise, and you can add more stringent guidelines. The system is not ideal if you have very specific needs. For in-depth screening to pinpoint a real niche bracket of testers, you will need to look elsewhere.

The Proof Is in the Testing
With such a low upfront cost and quick turnaround there really is no reason not to give it a try. Any feedback that enables you to streamline your product and improve usability is worth the investment. You can easily annotate or edit the videos you get in from testers and that can be a useful tool to present your findings to the rest of your company and spark the response you need to perfect that software before it goes to market.

More Stories By Vu Lam

Vu Lam is founder and CEO of QASymphony, developers of defect capture tools that track user interactions with applications. He was previously with First Consulting Group and was an early pioneer in Vietnam’s offshore IT services industry since 1995. He holds an MS degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University. You may reach him at [email protected]

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@MicroservicesExpo Stories
DevOps tends to focus on the relationship between Dev and Ops, putting an emphasis on the ops and application infrastructure. But that’s changing with microservices architectures. In her session at DevOps Summit, Lori MacVittie, Evangelist for F5 Networks, will focus on how microservices are changing the underlying architectures needed to scale, secure and deliver applications based on highly distributed (micro) services and why that means an expansion into “the network” for DevOps.
Containers have changed the mind of IT in DevOps. They enable developers to work with dev, test, stage and production environments identically. Containers provide the right abstraction for microservices and many cloud platforms have integrated them into deployment pipelines. DevOps and Containers together help companies to achieve their business goals faster and more effectively. In his session at DevOps Summit, Ruslan Synytsky, CEO and Co-founder of Jelastic, reviewed the current landscape of...
Conferences agendas. Event navigation. Specific tasks, like buying a house or getting a car loan. If you've installed an app for any of these things you've installed what's known as a "disposable mobile app" or DMA. Apps designed for a single use-case and with the expectation they'll be "thrown away" like brochures. Deleted until needed again. These apps are necessarily small, agile and highly volatile. Sometimes existing only for a short time - say to support an event like an election, the Wor...
The cloud has transformed how we think about software quality. Instead of preventing failures, we must focus on automatic recovery from failure. In other words, resilience trumps traditional quality measures. Continuous delivery models further squeeze traditional notions of quality. Remember the venerable project management Iron Triangle? Among time, scope, and cost, you can only fix two or quality will suffer. Only in today's DevOps world, continuous testing, integration, and deployment upend...
Discussions about cloud computing are evolving into discussions about enterprise IT in general. As enterprises increasingly migrate toward their own unique clouds, new issues such as the use of containers and microservices emerge to keep things interesting. In this Power Panel at 16th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the state of cloud computing today, and what enterprise IT professionals need to know about how the latest topics and trends affect t...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Red Hat's Chief Arch...
Summer is finally here and it’s time for a DevOps summer vacation. From San Francisco to New York City, our top summer conferences list is going to continuously deliver you to the summer destinations of your dreams. These DevOps parties are hitting all the hottest summer trends with Microservices, Agile, Continuous Delivery, DevSecOps, and even Continuous Testing. Move over Kanye. These are the top 5 Summer DevOps Conferences of 2015.
Sharding has become a popular means of achieving scalability in application architectures in which read/write data separation is not only possible, but desirable to achieve new heights of concurrency. The premise is that by splitting up read and write duties, it is possible to get better overall performance at the cost of a slight delay in consistency. That is, it takes a bit of time to replicate changes initiated by a "write" to the read-only master database. It's eventually consistent, and it'...
"Plutora provides release and testing environment capabilities to the enterprise," explained Dalibor Siroky, Director and Co-founder of Plutora, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit, held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
Containers are changing the security landscape for software development and deployment. As with any security solutions, security approaches that work for developers, operations personnel and security professionals is a requirement. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kevin Gilpin, CTO and Co-Founder of Conjur, will discuss various security considerations for container-based infrastructure and related DevOps workflows.
Cloud Migration Management (CMM) refers to the best practices for planning and managing migration of IT systems from a legacy platform to a Cloud Provider through a combination professional services consulting and software tools. A Cloud migration project can be a relatively simple exercise, where applications are migrated ‘as is’, to gain benefits such as elastic capacity and utility pricing, but without making any changes to the application architecture, software development methods or busine...
Data center models are changing. A variety of technical trends and business demands are forcing that change, most of them centered on the explosive growth of applications. That means, in turn, that the requirements for application delivery are changing. Certainly application delivery needs to be agile, not waterfall. It needs to deliver services in hours, not weeks or months. It needs to be more cost efficient. And more than anything else, it needs to be really, dc infra axisreally, super focus...
The most often asked question post-DevOps introduction is: “How do I get started?” There’s plenty of information on why DevOps is valid and important, but many managers still struggle with simple basics for how to initiate a DevOps program in their business. They struggle with issues related to current organizational inertia, the lack of experience on Continuous Integration/Delivery, understanding where DevOps will affect revenue and budget, etc. In their session at DevOps Summit, JP Morgenthal...
Overgrown applications have given way to modular applications, driven by the need to break larger problems into smaller problems. Similarly large monolithic development processes have been forced to be broken into smaller agile development cycles. Looking at trends in software development, microservices architectures meet the same demands. Additional benefits of microservices architectures are compartmentalization and a limited impact of service failure versus a complete software malfunction. ...
Many people recognize DevOps as an enormous benefit – faster application deployment, automated toolchains, support of more granular updates, better cooperation across groups. However, less appreciated is the journey enterprise IT groups need to make to achieve this outcome. The plain fact is that established IT processes reflect a very different set of goals: stability, infrequent change, hands-on administration, and alignment with ITIL. So how does an enterprise IT organization implement change...
While DevOps most critically and famously fosters collaboration, communication, and integration through cultural change, culture is more of an output than an input. In order to actively drive cultural evolution, organizations must make substantial organizational and process changes, and adopt new technologies, to encourage a DevOps culture. Moderated by Andi Mann, panelists discussed how to balance these three pillars of DevOps, where to focus attention (and resources), where organizations migh...
At DevOps Summit NY there’s been a whole lot of talk about not just DevOps, but containers, IoT, and microservices. Sessions focused not just on the cultural shift needed to grow at scale with a DevOps approach, but also made sure to include the network ”plumbing” needed to ensure success as applications decompose into the microservice architectures enabling rapid growth and support for the Internet of (Every)Things.
Mashape is bringing real-time analytics to microservices with the release of Mashape Analytics. First built internally to analyze the performance of more than 13,000 APIs served by the mashape.com marketplace, this new tool provides developers with robust visibility into their APIs and how they function within microservices. A purpose-built, open analytics platform designed specifically for APIs and microservices architectures, Mashape Analytics also lets developers and DevOps teams understand w...
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists peeled away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud envir...
Sumo Logic has announced comprehensive analytics capabilities for organizations embracing DevOps practices, microservices architectures and containers to build applications. As application architectures evolve toward microservices, containers continue to gain traction for providing the ideal environment to build, deploy and operate these applications across distributed systems. The volume and complexity of data generated by these environments make monitoring and troubleshooting an enormous chall...