This UserTesting review was one of the first pieces of content ever published on HomeWorkingClub. Now, as I return to update it over a year later, UserTesting remains one of my favourite ways to earn some money on the side, and a service I often recommend to people.
Unfortunately, it’s not something that generates enough money to be more than a side gig. However, I should point out that the UserTesting website makes this perfectly clear, describing the opportunity as “a great way to earn a few extra dollars on the side,” and not a way to get rich.
Even so, I’ve dipped in and out of this activity on multiple occasions since I first did a UserTesting review, $50 or so per week seems like a realistic target, based on my experience. I’ve heard from other users with similar experiences. This is a helpful addition to anyone’s freelance income. The work itself is straightforward and enjoyable too.
An Introduction to UserTesting
UserTesting is an online platform that allows companies to try out new websites and apps with real-life users.
As a tester, you install software on your computer or phone that enables UserTesting to record your screen while you work through a series of tasks on a website or app. Companies then use this feedback to improve their sites and systems.
Having recommended UserTesting to many people over the past year or so, I’m conscious that quite a few seem scared off by having their screen and voice recorded! I guess this can feel like a barrier, but it’s really not intimidating AT ALL once you’re used to it.
Before I signed up to UserTesting as a tester (for the purposes of this review), I had previously experienced the platform from the “client perspective” having used such tests on projects I’d worked on in the past. This made it particularly interesting for me to see it from the other side.
UserTesting.com accepts testers from a wide range of countries. To get accepted, you need to install their software and complete a test task, which doesn’t take more than 10 minutes. Once you’re signed up, you can accept testing tasks any time while you are online.
It makes sense to take this test task very seriously as you can spoil it with background noise or distractions. I have heard from people who didn’t pass.
UserTesting.com: Rates and Payments
The standard rate for completing a user test on the platform is $10. This involves completing a series of tasks on a website over the course of up to 20 minutes. In my experience, it rarely takes quite this long to complete a test.
There were also smaller “peek tests” at one point which were much shorter and paid $3. I haven’t seen one of these in a very long time, so I’m unsure they still exist.
In addition, there are some special longer and more detailed projects that you may be invited to if you meet the criteria. Despite filling out numerous forms and surveys I’ve only been invited to one of these projects, but it did pay higher than the normal rate.
Experienced user testers can also find themselves invited to tasks involving a special camera setup, but I’ve yet to reach these echelons!
Payments are made via PayPal one week after task completion, and all online feedback indicates that these payments are consistently processed without fail.
How Does UserTesting Work?
Once you’ve passed the trial user test with UserTesting, you’re required to complete a profile, containing some basics such as your age, gender and income level. You also need to select which devices you have access to, as this helps the platform know which tests to allocate to you.
After this, it’s a bit of a waiting game. Test tasks appear on your “Dashboard” when they are available, and it’s a case of grabbing them quickly before another tester does. You also receive email notifications.
In most cases, there’s a small screening test to make sure you meet certain criteria. Some of these are very specific, asking if you work in a specific industry, for example. On other occasions, it’s slightly less clear what the criteria for acceptance is. Regardless, it doesn’t take more than a minute or two for this screening process, so it doesn’t feel like you’re wasting too much time. Survey sites are far worse for this!
Once you’ve grabbed a test and are approved for it, the screen recording begins. You complete the tasks using a simple interface, speaking all your thoughts out loud as you go. Once you’re done, there are usually two or three brief written questions to complete at the end of the test.
The wonderful thing about user testing is that you can’t really get it wrong. If you struggle to find something on a website or app, that’s exactly the feedback the developers want, so it doesn’t feel like a particularly pressured process, which is surprising, given that you’re having your screen and voice recorded!
In terms of feedback, you are star-rated on some of the tests you complete, and given an overall average star rating too. This plays into your eligibility for future tests. Over time I’ve personally had no problem maintaining a five-star rating. I’ve even had a couple of low ratings removed by the UserTesting team because they considered them unfairly given, which makes the system feel very fair on testers.
UserTesting Review: Technicalities
UserTesting’s platform uses a screen recording plugin which works with no problems at all for me using Chrome on a Mac.
There is also a mobile UserTesting app, which you need to install on your smartphone if you want to complete mobile tests.
As your screen is being recorded, you do need to take some precautions to hide any personal information. On a computer, this means closing messaging apps and email clients so that they don’t pop up during tests. I tend to close other browser tabs and hide my bookmark bar too.
On a mobile device, you need to switch to “Do Not Disturb” mode, so your user tests aren’t disturbed by calls and messages. It’s important to follow the instructions on this or you risk voiding a test and not being paid.
UserTesting: The Good Bits
As I said right at the start, this is a way to earn money online that I thoroughly enjoy.
User experience testing is quite interesting, for starters, and UserTesting.com is the market leader. On their website, they show that they’ve worked with names as big as Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo.
I can personally attest to the stature of the companies you’ll be testing for, as I encountered some really big names within days of joining, and continue to do so.
This is also an extremely flexible way to earn money. It’s best to leave UserTesting open in a browser tab at all times, then when you hear the “ping” of a new test, moving to quickly grab it. It’s quite exciting when a new one pops up!
While I don’t use UserTesting all the time, it’s always my first port of call when I need to get a little more cash coming in.
The reputation of UserTesting.com is reassuring too. The system is simple and slick, with fees for completed tests instantly adding on to your pending balance. Unlikely so many online working options, there’s never cause for a second’s anxiety that you won’t get paid.
UserTesting: The Bad Bits
There’s nothing to really criticise about working for UserTesting.com. It’s a shame there aren’t more tests to go around, because the work is enjoyable and offers fair pay. It does get frustrating when a whole day passes with no tests popping up for you, or when there’s one there but you’re engaged with something else and miss the boat.
It’s also likely that people will have a different experience of how many tests they get based on their demographic profile. I’ve had several tests, for example, that I know wouldn’t have been allocated to me if I didn’t work in the tech industry. I guess in time this all evens out.
Privacy is the only other thing that may concern some, but really this is down to you making sure you don’t record anything on your screen accidentally.
Before updating my UserTesting review, I sat down to look at some other online feedback. I was surprised to see a fairly poor TrustPilot rating, but when I drilled down further, the bad reviews were mainly from people with sour grapes about failing the test or receiving poor ratings! I’ve used UserTesting regularly for nearly two years, and have no issues with it at all.
User testing websites isn’t a home working job for you if you’re “microphone shy.” Even if you are, I’d suggest giving it a go – it’s not nearly as intimidating as it may seem at first. You can sign up as a user tester here.
Unless you're a complete technophone who's freaked out about talking into a microphone, signing up with UserTesting.com as a user tester is a no-brainer to bring in some extra home working side income.
- Ease of use
- Earning Potential