Like most of us, you’ve probably commented on how some websites are confusing and others excellent. Rather than complaining to your spouse or friend, how would you like to make those comments to the owners of the sites and get paid for playing critic?
I do just that, and you can too. In fact, you can make $30 per hour as a website tester.
I’ve been a search engine evaluator, a similar job, for a few months and it’s great in some ways (work from home when you like for $12 to $15 per hour). But I have to judge search results according to strict criteria set by the company that hired me. As a website tester (also called a website evaluator or usability tester), I get to critique a site by my own standards. My honest opinion as a consumer or user of the site is usually what the client wants. And that makes it much more relaxing work.
You see, companies want to know how real people interact with their websites to make them less confusing, easier to navigate and more appealing. For this, they turn to businesses that maintain a panel of testers — people like you and I. When you sign up with a website evaluation company, you’ll download some software and, when tasks are available, look over a website while your mouse movements, clicks, keystrokes, and spoken comments are all recorded as a video. Afterward there might be a few questions to answer, but the whole process often takes 15 minutes or less.
What Kind of Assignments Do You Get as a Website Evaluator?
This morning I got an email from UserTesting.com, which said there were tests available for me. I logged in to my account, put on my headset, and a minute later I was looking at an exercise website for kids and their parents. My job, for the next five minutes, was to look over everything, click the navigation links, and talk about what I saw the whole time.
Then I clicked the “finished” button and went to the kitchen for a cup of coffee while the “video” (my audio and the screen shot) was uploaded (it takes a couple minutes). For this “usability study” I’ll be paid $10. Not bad, right?
Sometimes short tasks pay only $3, and not all the tests are the same. Many involve describing your experience as you check out a site, but the second one I did today was quite different. It required me to group together navigation links and name the boxes I put them in. Informational posts were put in a box I named “Articles,” while links like “Contact Us,” “Our Mission,” and “Team Members” went into a box named “About Us.” The owner of the website apparently wanted help organizing the site according to how average users might like to see it. I put 40 links into six boxes. It took ten minutes and I’ll get $10 for the task.
The Good and the Bad of Working as a Website Tester
I wish I could do this work more often, but those tests I did today were the first available to me in a while, and I’ve only done six or seven in the last month. That’s the biggest drawback with this type of work. As User Testing explains, “Because this is such a high-paying opportunity, we have more user testers in our database than we have work opportunities.” On the other hand, if you get hired by several of these website evaluation companies, you might get enough work between them to have a nice part-time income.
You get assignments when your demographic profile fits with the target audience of the websites you test, so you might get more than me. I’ve declined quite a few tests or have been disqualified because I don’t play this or that video game, or I don’t plan to buy a major appliance in the next year, etc.
With that in mind, here’s a tip: Be sure to fill out your profile fully so you don’t waste too much time answering questions just to find out you don’t qualify for a test.
In some cases, I didn’t responded quickly enough to the notification emails, so the available tests were given to someone else by the time I logged in. While logged into my account, I’ve seen tests come and go within seconds — fast enough that no email notice is sent — so it might help to visit your dashboard several times daily just to see if something is available.
How to Qualify and Get Hired to Test Websites
The companies that do this each have their own needs, but here are some common qualifications they almost all look for:
- You have to be at least 18 years old
- You need to own a computer and microphone
- You need a broadband internet connection
- You’ll fill out a form with demographic information (your age, gender, computer experience, etc.)
- You will (most likely) have to do a sample test
One testing company might need more testers of a certain age or income level while another might be looking for testers who are self-employed or retired. In other words, if you don’t get hired by one, apply to the next on the list.
To keep working as a website evaluator, you have to do a good job. The clients served by your employer will rate you, and getting additional assignments depends on whether you get decent ratings. Generally the clients want you to constantly talk into that microphone as you use their sites, and to be clear about what you’re doing and what you think.
Who’s Hiring Website Testers?
So where exactly can you find these jobs? Here are some of the companies that are hiring at the moment:
- UserTesting.com – $3 to $10 per test, $15 per mobile test (5 to 20 minutes); usually pays within a week
- TryMYUI.com – $10 per test (15 to 20 minutes); pays twice weekly
- UserFeel.com – $10 per test; pays weekly
- Userlytics.com – $10 per test; pays every two weeks
- WhatUsersDo.com – Variable rate for tests; pays monthly
All of the companies above pay you through PayPal, so if you don’t have an account, open one before you start filling out applications. None of the companies state that you can’t work for the others, so if you want more assignments it’s probably best to apply to all of them.
Who knows? You might make money as a website tester by the end of this week.
Your Turn: Have you ever worked as a website usability tester or would you like to? Let us know in the comments what you liked or didn’t like about this job!