You can make money online many different ways if you like to surf the Web. One of these ways includes usability testing, or reviewing websites and mobile apps.
What exactly is usability testing?
In a nutshell, usability testing is the user-based reviewing of websites, videos, advertisements, static images, interfaces, prototypes and mobile apps. Users such as yourself open up a website or app and are asked to register online, go shopping for a product or service, conduct a search, compare/contrast a site with that of a competitor, answer questions about site use/feel, etc.
Basically, it’s the equivalent of your web designer buddy standing behind you while you peruse his newly designed website or app and tell him what you think of his creation.
Of course, because you’re working from home and the marketers or web developers aren’t coming to your house or apartment, your actions and facial responses are recorded by a microphone and often by a webcam. Some usability testing sites have you download special software that tracks your keystrokes and where you go online (only during the usability testing process, of course).
Generally speaking, most usability tests pay $10 per accepted test. You might receive several tests within a single week, so you could earn hundreds of dollars per month if you really keep tabs on the usability testing site(s) and register with more than one. Even better, some usability testing sites offer longer and better paying tests and even a chance to join online forums; from what I’ve heard, some of those online forums pay up to $150.
Here are four usability testing sites that you may wish to sign up for:
You apply to this site by sending in a mock review (with video) of an example website. Once you are accepted, the site sends you usability tests about twice per week based on your demographics. If you successfully complete the usability tests and they are accepted by TryMyUI, you are paid $10 via Paypal. In general, these tests take about 10-15 minutes to complete, so at least in theory, you could be earning $40/hour. Or, just about enough money to go out for a pizza at the end of the week.
What’s great about TryMyUI is that this company does not require that you use a webcam, just a microphone. There also is no software to download and store on your computer. What’s not so great about TryMyUI is that you need to submit a rather lengthy application (compared with other usability testing sites) prior to getting accepted.
This site requires you to download its software and use it while reviewing a mock website as part of your application. Once you are approved, you can earn $10 for each successfully completed website or app review. You will need a microphone as well as a reasonably fast computer to perform user tests; a good example of what exactly you’ll be doing is provided on this Userfeel example video.
Currently, the issue with Userfeel is that the site is booked and so is accepting no new testers. A few weeks back, this site was open to new testers. I’d recommend checking back every other week or so to find out if a vacancy exists.
This usability testing site does not require its applicants to submit an application; you simply register on the site and wait for your invitation (which for me, happened in the space of five seconds). Once you log in, you can view any open tests that you qualify for as well as your completed tests (and their respective status). Userlytics requires that you be equipped with a webcam and microphone as well as a decent operating system (Windows 7/XP/Vista or MacOS Leopard 10.6 or newer) before you can participate in its tests.
Userlytics usability tests are timed and required to be finished in the space of 10 minutes. Once you finish the test and answer a few follow-up questions from the client, you are prompted to submit your report. Userlytics pays $10 per accepted test and payments are sent via Paypal.
What’s great about Userlytics is that you can quickly sign up to the site by simply providing your name and email. Userlytics also works with some major corporations and brand names that you’ll probably recognize. But just remember that, because you’ll be on webcam during the test, working from home au naturel may not be advisable.
This site has you download its screen-capturing software and perform a five minute website review as part of your application process. If all goes well, you’re accepted and can now perform website and mobile site reviews for $10 and $15, respectively. Payment is made via Paypal. Just like with the other mentioned usability testing sites, you will need a microphone for your computer.
While this site has received some good employee reviews (as noted on Glassdoor) and may even be expanding, it does appear that independent contractors are complaining about the lack of steady work. If UserTesting gains more clients and space in 2014, that story might change.
Don’t quit your (work-at-home) day job…
Keep in mind that most usability testing gigs are emailed out on a first-come-first-get basis. So, if you’re not checking your email throughout the course of the day, you might lose out on usability tests that apply to your demographic. Overall, usability testing is not something that will make you rich, but it will enable you to save up for a nice vacation or that mega-screen TV you’ve been craving. Or, in my case, more sashimi dinners.