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How to be a good tester

Posted by Sophie Knight on Jan 18, 2024 4:03 PM

You have just completed our application form to be a tester and are excited to hear about upcoming research opportunities. You are probably wondering what will happen next?

We regularly need to recruit a range of people to test our clients’ websites. We will contact you when a project arises that we think will be a good fit against the details you have provided in your application form. All the details about your life allow us to match you to research – we will touch on this again later!

So, what makes a good tester?

We are often asked what makes a good tester. The assumption tends to be that you should be a web expert or what we call a ‘serial tester’ (someone who has lots of experience of testing sites with different user research agencies). The reality is that we want to recruit ‘real’ users so will only invite you to participate in research when the website under test is relevant to you. 

We always set out exactly what is expected of our testers during recruitment and this is reiterated at the start of the session by our researcher. 

Tell us a bit about yourself… 

When you sign up on our website, we ask our testers to complete an application form, providing us with details that will allow our recruiters to match you to relevant projects. One of the questions ‘Tell us a bit about yourself’ asks for details about hobbies, interests, experiences, family life and previous jobs.  

The more information we can gather at this stage the easier it is for us to match you appropriately to research opportunities and the more projects we will be able to invite you to participate in. 

Do you have another device you could join the call on please? 

These days, the majority of our research takes place remotely over a video call platform, such as Zoom, on a mix of devices (laptop or smartphone). Researchers will run the session by sharing their computer screen and control of the mouse with our tester. This allows you to engage as naturally as possible with the website.  

Upfront, we will tell you which device we need you to join from, either a laptop or a smartphone. Unfortunately, sometimes testers don’t follow these instructions, which can cause delays to the session. For example, screen sharing and remote mouse control does not work well on a smartphone so if this setup is required, a laptop is a must for the testing.  

Testers who join the session promptly on the right device with a clear video and audio allows us to make best use of the limited time we have for the research. 

Please think out loud… 

Throughout the session, you will be encouraged to ‘think out loud’ when exploring the website or vocalise your internal monologue. This helps us surface how the website is making you feel and if its meeting your needs. One of our trained researchers will facilitate the session and interject with questions as necessary to ensure we fully understand your point of view. 

Tester who can articulate their opinions without much prompting, make the session extra insightful and the facilitators job a whole lot easier! 

But how do you feel? 

We always ask testers to be open and honest about their personal opinions of the website. No one will ever be offended by your feedback. Over the years, we have found that testers might hold back for fear of causing offence or may try to project how other people might find using the website e.g. I can use it but other people but not be able to.  

We need YOUR opinion, not anyone else’s and our best testers keep the dialogue about their own experience, goals and attitudes.  

How to be a good tester… 

To recap, here are our top 5 tips for our testers: 

  1. Give us lots of details: the more we know about your interests and hobbies the easier it will be to match you to relevant research projects 
  2. Get set up: use the device we have asked you to use and have Zoom ready to go 
  3. Clarity is king: make sure you have a webcam and good audio quality (we like to see and hear you!) 
  4. Think out loud: tell us what you are thinking and feeling as you explore the website 
  5. Be open and honest: no one will be offended by your feedback. It is your opinion that matters.  

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