User Testing: Three Interesting Tests

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I've been conducting focus groups and user testing on apps for the last couple of years. From what I've learnt, user testing is paramount to the success of your product. Interestingly, some of the most effective tests can be the ones that you'd expect to go the most disastrously, and some of the most disastrous tests are the ones that you expect to go amazingly.

Here are three types of unorthodox user testing  methods that you can conduct:

The Drunk Guy 

It's common knowledge that when inebriated with alcohol, certain cognitive functions are diminished. Seeing this as a competitive advantage, Richard Littauer, started a website, asking companies to pay him to test their products - while he was drunk. His philosophy is simple, “Your website should be simple enough for a drunk guy to use and understand”. This is quite a neat way to test the onboarding effectiveness of your user interface. 

Drunk Guy User Testing

If you're interested in using this test, but can't find a user willing to get drunk, you can visit  'The User Is Drunk'. At the very least, you'll get a good laugh. Richard is a professional UX expert that lives in Bali. He isn't the only one turning his trade in the 'Inebriated UX' space. There have been recent new entrants in this market as well. 

P.S. I usually convince a friend to come out and get a few beers with me. When we're a few rounds down, I slip them the phone with the app open. The nature of this testing situation leads to some really honest, unbiased feedback, and leads to great insights that help simplify the onboarding process. It could also lead to some of this...

Drunk User Testing - What does this button do?


The Mom  

A user testing method that I diligently apply for ALL of my products is the 'mom test'. If I can put my product in the hands of my mother and get her to understand the product, I'm almost certain to have done my job. While testing Bluff Party, we noticed some game-breaking problems with our on-boarding process when I had my own mother check it out for the first time. She simply couldn't understand the core functionality of the game because of basic issues like font sizes and readability, which to us, looked just fine. In fact, we lost her only 2 steps into  the tutorial, and this spelt doom for the rest of her experience. 

Richard Littauer started an alternate service, where he employs a friend's mother to test out products for customers. This all began when he got tired of drinking beers from the popularity of his drunk testing service. He soon started recruiting mothers across the world as testers for his clients.

 The Teenager 

When Snapchat first launched, teenagers had absolutely no issues learning how to use it.  However, this wasn't the case for most other age groups. Teenagers are extremely tech-savvy and their ability to navigate your product will provide valuable information. The 'Teenager Test' is the metric by which you define if your products have the potential for organic growth and virality. Being the most active and vocal demographic, this group of users will often dictate virality.

Teenager User Testing -- Age Groups Social Media

 However, this user test can be adapted for other age groups if necessary. For example, Instagram and Pinterest have the majority of their demographic in  the 25-34 age bracket. The chart above, taken from Social Media Week, illustrates the demographic that you would want to test based on the platform your product is targeting.

Final Thoughts​

User testing in these unorthodox ways can give you a unique perspective on the usability of your app.  The Drunk Guy test gives you insight into general simplicity in your communication and design.  The Mom test tends to yield results that are often overlooked. And the Teenager test will inform you on whether your product is trendy.  The results of these tests are quite interesting and have helped me iterate through the design phase of various products.  User testing doesn't have to be boring and tedious if done this way!

I'd love to hear from people who have tried some of these before, or those who intend to try them in the future.

Video record your test subjects using your products because they're bound to stumble into some hilarious obstacles, bugs and revelations you never even knew existed.

Happy testing!

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Surojit 'Babo' Roy

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