User testing methods for start-ups

We personally know how exciting it is to come up with nu business ideas (see what we did there?). But turning dreams into reality is never a walk in the park...

How can you be sure your product will succeed? Of course, no one can predict the future, but, you can better achieve your product goals by asking and allowing your target audience to test it.

Many companies skip this step because of pricing, not recognising how it can help them move from where they think the product should be, to where their potential clients want and need it to be. Here, we will review some methods you can benefit from for a very low price - or even, free.

Guerilla testing

Investing doesn’t always have to be with money from your pocket. First, consider investing time into your product. Guerilla testing is one of the easiest methods to remember. Now, unless you're planning on launching your product in the middle of the African rainforest... the guerilla method is testing with your potential users (hopefully, people). It’s as simple as finding and approaching these potential users with a prototype of your product, and asking them for feedback.

Although guerilla testing is definitely a less formal method to conduct testing, it can be as successful as any other way (if you plan it properly). The golden rule for guerilla testing is to know why you are collecting data with a working prototype for users to base their feedback off. The more it resembles the real product, the more accurate the experience and more useful the response of users will be.

A good way to make sure that you’re approaching your target audience is picking a location in which they usually spend their time. As you will not be able to test everything at once (nor with this method or with any other) it is really important to prepare a smart scenario. That is, you should properly select what is most important to ask about and test.

Don't worry about asking a wide range of people. Research conducted by the web usability consultant Jakob Nielsen shows that with just 5 out of 6 people you can find up to 85% of the core usability problems in your product.


1. Maze

Tool for designers and developers. They offer different options to implement while testing, such as creation of missions, addition of questions and even the possibility to test with your own users or hire some from the built-in panel. There is a free trial for a month and a price of $42/month for startups.

2. Optimizely.

Most helpful for A/B testing, and to improve certain decisions such as CTA, colors or titles. You can use it for free and pay for advanced features.

3. Crazy Egg.

This works only with webpages. You can find features such as snapshots, heatmaps, recordings and A/B testing. The basic fee is $24/month.

4. TryMyIU.

Website and App testing. Take advantage of video screencaps, system usability scale questionnaires, voice-over commentaries and written feedback features. One free trial test, after the cheapest option is $35/test.

How to interpret user feedback

It is vital to analyse all responses you receive. Although most of the online usability tools we’ve recommended will provide you a detailed report, it is good to know how to make your own interpretations of these.

1. Make categories (and subcategories if applicable). This will give you an idea of the way users perceive your product and will make the analysis much easier.

2. Distinguishing between positive and negative feedback. Use a highlighter to differentiate stages in different colors depending on users’ satisfaction.

3. Root causes. It’s vital to justify each users’ response. Investigate which feature of your product has driven your user to respond in that way.

4. Plan of action. Once you know what you should improve it’s time to carry out a plan to solve any issues. Focus also on those features that have received positive feedback, so that they continue that way.

5. Share results. Make sure all members of your organisation have an insight of the results in order to guarantee enhancement on a broader scope.

Once you finish testing your product, analysing results and made the necessary amendments, you will be one step closer to offering your users what they are really looking for. Don’t underestimate the usefulness of these tools - and keep investing in them right away!

Ready to kickstart your project?

Contact us to see if Martin’s team can help you. We'll be in touch to talk to you about your business and help you identify the best approach that works for you.

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Martin Sandhu
Founder – martin@nuom.co.uk