Have you ever visited a website and felt like you time-traveled back to 2005? What about giving up on a product or service online after you couldn’t find the contact button? As frustrating as these experiences are for you and fellow internet brethren, they can be devastating to poor, unsuspecting businesses.
Luckily, you can be a hero and save the web by participating in user tests! If you have a knack for web design, tech, or are just passionate about great user experiences (me, too!), user testing is a compelling side-hustle to explore.
Keep reading to learn more about how you can get paid to test websites and apps!
What is user testing?
User testing, also known as usability testing, is a way for companies to get feedback from real consumers on their digital and technology products.
User tests are similar to product tests, but for software, websites and apps.
A moderator of a test will give the user various functions to perform around the product to gain insights on the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) – the two key components of web and app design.
The user performs these tasks and gives verbal, written, or data-driven feedback to improve the end product and experience. User tests can be for both old, new and unreleased products.
Do you need to be a professional?
Nope! In fact, user testing sites often require amateurs and/or disqualify industry professionals because they want an authentic consumer experience.
Sure, you should know how to navigate a mouse, the basic workings of the major browsers and how to perform a desired call to action… but outside of that, very surface-level knowledge will suffice.
User tests typically want to see how the average user will navigate or interact with a product, so the closer you are to the average user – the better. Of course, some user tests may be more advanced, but the screen tests or qualifications will generally tell you. The company wants the person that closest aligns with their ideal customer.
How do you become a paid user tester?
The process to become a paid user tester is very similar to signing up for a traditional focus group.
Find a site you like (we recommend some below!) and sign up to their database. Once you register, they will typically give you a generic sample test to see if you are a fit for the database. Pass this test by being detailed, thorough, and following directions to the T.
Unlike focus group surveys and follow-up qualification questionnaires, you are mostly in control of the outcome, so make it count!
Remember, this test is to evaluate how you will give feedback for a real test, so the more involved feedback you give, the higher likelihood you will get approved. With user tests, there is no such thing as ‘stating the obvious.’
If you pass the sample test, some sites will email you testing opportunities, others will allow you access to browse and choose tests on your own. Either way, make sure you are diligent to check available studies often. Early birds get the worm!
What are the requirements?
You will definitely need a laptop or phone with the necessary specifications directed by the company. Most times your hardware equipment is expected to be recent, in the last 5 years or so to avoid incompatibilities with software, browsers/plugins, site designs, etc.
You may have to download certain software, such as recorders, trackers, etc. to participate in the study.
Some user tests require a webcam and a microphone so you can describe your experience as you are navigating.
Companies often use a webcam and/or screen capture software to gather more accurate data and visualize how users will interact with their product.
How to maximize your earnings with paid tests
Always get notifications
Studies are offered on a first-come, first-serve basis, so the earlier you see the posting, the better chances it is available. There is a lot of competition for these tests, and postings can get filled in minutes. Turn on your notifications so you can be one of the first.
If a company doesn’t use email to notify you of studies, set aside time to check the site a couple times a day.
Register with various companies
More tests = more money. There are multiple reasons to sign up for multiple testing sites: some sites may not update often, test user limits/quotas, interests, etc. One site is not going to be your golden egg. Sign up for at least a few to get consistent opportunities.
Prepare for dry spells
Online focus groups and similar opportunities are a great way to earn extra cash, but they are not always the most reliable. Sometimes your study well will dry up. Spreading your opportunity pool is a good way to guard against this. Check out our guides on free samples or product tests to explore some other fun options.
Top 5 User Testing Sites
1. User Testing:
This is probably the most recommended site across the internet, and for good reason. They have earned their reputation: with tons of happy users and brands like Facebook, CBS, The Home Depot, and more.
We like their very clear pay structure. You earn $10 for every 20-minute test you take. If you take 2 or 3 tests within an hour, that works out to a solid hourly rate. They also offer interviews for a higher payout rate, which they don’t disclose.
2. Tech Research Studies:
This company focuses primarily on app testing, but only in-person. They offer worldwide studies. Current studies are in San Diego, New York, and Sydney.
They have a very high payout: $200 for 30-60 minutes on average. Payment is through a prepaid Visa gift card,
The studies seem fairly easy to qualify for, but do depend on different demographic information. I definitely recommend you check back frequently to see if they have studies in your area. Spots fill up quickly!
3. Try My UI:
Another well-known industry giant, Try My UI boasts corporate clients such as NBC, Amazon, and Bose.
Users can take both websites and apps, and it also offers the fair payout of $10 per test, about 20 minutes. They don’t limit you to how many tests you can take per day or week, but you are of course limited by the offerings available.
Payouts are made weekly through Paypal.
This is perhaps the most diverse company to embody the usability testing experience. You may test websites, apps, ads, etc for smaller start-ups and large corporations alike. Websites and apps are still in prototype/production mode, so you will likely experience a raw product.
They highlight the necessary specifications to use their platform before you sign up so there are no surprises. Check out their very detailed FAQ section for insight into their process.
They are a worldwide company, and pay is anywhere from $5-$90 through Paypal.
Enroll allows you to test websites, logos, and web-apps from anywhere: phone, laptop, desktop, tablet… you name it! Their user interface is relatively simple to use and the instructions are clear when testing.
Payout is low but the tests are quick. You earn 10 cents per minute, and most tests last about that long. That means you can earn pretty quickly, but it can get exhausting to go through enough tests to earn a decent hourly rate. Payouts are via Paypal.
These are the top platforms that specifically focus on user testing. But there are many other companies that offer user testing along with other study options. See our compiled list of best online paid research studies for more.
If you want to learn more about the market research industry, check out my Complete Guide to Focus Groups. There are some more great tips and insights to maximize your time and earnings there too!
In the digital age, it’s obvious how user testing makes an impact on the companies you serve. Of course, like all the gigs we recommend on this site, user testing is not a full-time income by any means, and you shouldn’t expect to scale it to one either.
It’s meant to line your pockets and help you supplement your lifestyle in a fun, accessible way.
But unlike other opportunities, user tests allow for clients to directly implement feedback almost immediately. This can translate to greater satisfaction for both the tester and the company. And now that I think about it, the end-user, too!
That’s a win-win…win. So, are you ready to put your tech-savvy to the test? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!