After searching this morning on Google there's no doubt in my mind that the Usability Testing market has become quite a crowded place. Yes there seems to be no shortage of academics, experts, mad scientists and teenagers sat in their bedroom offering you their take on what your business needs to do to ensure the best Usability experience possible. I don't want to sound like I am exaggerating because there are no way near as many providers as if you were to search for something like Poker or web design but you can defiantly choose from a choice of Usability methodology from people who have carried out Usability Testing all the way from the Sahara Dessert to Louisville Kentucky.
Of course though this is at a price and doing a little Usability Testing market research, Testing Users took a chance. We purchased five User Testing report PDF's which worked out at an average of $189 with the cheapest being $148.
I guess I'm doing more comparative competitor analysis than I am doing market research, sure these are the other products we compete against but I'm not sure if this is the Testing User competition as such.
Some of the Usability Testing methods were 20 pages right the way up 140 pages. It took five days to get through this pile. The office printer had run out of ink twice and the Testing User wallet was a lot lighter. After taking the time to read them through besides a few methodology and advisory similarities I could only find one thing that they all have in common. Not one really provides a service.
No doubt that statement will enrage Usability Testing experts with more experience than me, but I am a Usability expert and am qualified and very experienced in this field. Maybe I am more of critic than most because of this but I don't think that makes me one sided, just frustrated with the products out there.
Well i'm feeling that feeling of disappointment in these products that countless Testing User clients had expressed to me. Like I say I had spent up and even for someone like me who is experienced I was left with these different Usability Testing methods pointing down different roads. Oh yes I was confused.
Now what I said about none of these providers providing a service. This is my opinion as of course you are legally receiving a product in the form of the PDF, but it left me very suspicious of what I had bought. Furthermore once you add these PDF's and proceed to the checkout you are given up to 10 more options like being able to replicate the reports for your employees, and yes you guessed it for a load more money. I would never inflict this pain on my staff as these reports are enough to send even the most dedicated Usability expert to sleep. I can't resist but compare these Usability report sites to a low cost airline trying to charge me extra for a window seat. Let alone can I call this the Testing User competition.
Anyway back to the point I don't think this kind of Usability service makes much sense to small and large corporations alike. Of course you will always find products no matter how unique with different analysis and methodologies. Usability Testing is the same, and there lies the problem.
The User Testing methods I had purchased were all supposed to advise the most suitable methodology and/or design guidelines specifically targeting Usability Tests for e-commerce and retail website. I propose this question to you. How can Usability reports which are supposed to be encoring absolute validity in Testing User methodology differ so much in opinion? As well as this I don't see how the price tag justifies what is essentially a DIY or make your own Usability Test, you don't even receive a methodology specific to your organization.
I concede that the reports talk well and are well written but even more annoying after Testing Users had devoted all this time and money not one stood out as a more convincing Usability Test. Indeed even as I write this blog 2 weeks after the purchases I could not tell you what my preferred method out of the five is.
I conclude that the best outcome from these reports is that they point in the right direction, but they can't all be right. Furthermore looking at the cost of the actually report and the insane costs involved in implementation, they cant seriously be aimed at small business can they?
So these Usability Testing services have to be aimed at large blue chip corporations right? The feedback we have received would suggest that though they might be aimed at these corporations their Usability demands are focused elsewhere.
A usability engineer from a large online gambling company contacted us earlier this year. He was tasked with developing the Usability of a new product but revealed his concerns regarding these reports and the implications of Usability consultancy in general. The full quote can be viewed on our testimonial page but he outlined to us that these reports were not "real world" and ultimately "an expensive DIY solution". He went on to make the point that he believed most User Testing services seemed to be under the impression that large corporations "don't do value for money" and that most had suggested private consultancy in excess of $40,000.
In my opinion this kind of feedback emphasizes an attitude that has become symptomatic of the Usability Testing industry. Over complicated, over priced and very much inconsistent solutions.
The Testing User experience addresses this demand for simplicity and value for money. A comprehensive and board room ready document that is suitable and affordable for both small and large business alike.