It’s pretty rare to find a side hustle that pays a solid wage of at least $15 per hour and doesn’t require a highly specialized skill set. UserTesting, a platform where participants are paid to test website and app prototypes, fits both criteria.
In short, UserTesting is legit, and its longevity in the UX testing industry is a testament to that claim.
The other side of the coin is that working for UserTesting can be tedious. The software is riddled with annoying quirks and it often takes a lot of screening to find a test you qualify for.
In this UserTesting review, which is based on numerous hours of real-world research, we’ll discuss the app at length, look at how much testers can make, and provide tips on maximizing earnings.
Usertesting is a legit money-making side gig that pays people to test websites and mobile applications. When the jobs are flowing, users can make upwards of $20 an hour. Usertesting also has a good reputation when it comes to processing payouts in a consistent fashion.
On the downside, it can be difficult to qualify for a gig, and the slow, buggy software doesn’t make the process much easier.
- Potential to earn $18 p/h or more from home
- Relatively easy work testing websites/apps
- Automatic, reliable withdrawals via PayPal
- Available in approximately 50 countries
- Frequent disqualifications
- Slow and messy software
- Not going to replace a full-time job
How much can you earn on UserTesting?
There’s this belief that because UserTesting pays $10 per 20-minute test, users will make $30 an hour. We can’t fault that logic, but it’s wrong.
Yes, it’s true that we were paid $10 per test. And yes, tests did take roughly 15-20 minutes to complete. But there were frequent times when we just weren’t making any money, instead forced to go through pre-screener after pre-screener, trying to qualify for something…anything.
All told, in approximately 11 hours on UserTesting, we completed 20 tests for an hourly rate of just over $18 per hour and total earnings of $200. Our research was conducted over a one-month period.
Now, that’s a better rate compared to competing sites, including the best online survey sites. It’s just not $30 per hour.*
*UserTesting occasionally offers video conferencing panels (think online focus groups) where users can make $30 p/h+.
Overall, we felt our earnings reflected a fairly desirable demographic group, but certainly not the most desirable. The truth is that your own hourly might differ significantly from ours, dependent on how well you fit the criteria that UserTesting’s clients are looking for.
Over the course of our research, we found that new tests pop up rather frequently, especially on weekday mornings and afternoons. Given that, we made a routine of going through all the available tests each morning on the UserTesting mobile app, and then leaving the desktop platform open in the background throughout the day, waiting for the notification “ding” that signified a new test. If you’re looking to max out earnings, you might want to do the same.
Here is proof of payment:
Notice that most clients do not rate your performance, which is a point of frustration. But more on ratings later.
UserTesting payments are automatically and reliably paid out via PayPal within 7 days of completing a test. No problems here — UserTesting is about as legit as they come.
How does UserTesting work?
The concept behind UserTesting is pretty simple. Companies use the platform to find real-world users to test out their websites and apps, who record their thoughts and answer questions as they’re completing simple tasks.
For instance, an online shopping app may want feedback on how hard it is to find and purchase a new product. Another company might want feedback on their new project management app and will ask users to fiddle around with it. A third may ask users to look at several different website prototypes, and comment on which one they like best, and why. You get the idea.
Companies typically look for specific types of users to test their products, and that’s where the pre-screeners come in. In order to prove you’re a good fit, you must first answer a series of questions. Sometimes the pre-screeners are two questions, sometimes they’re more than 10.
UserTesting does a pretty good job of keeping all available tests in one place and will notify you when a new test is available. The platform also displays the pay rate for each task, which is a nice touch.
On desktop, testers will be able to see the first pre-screening question, giving them a pretty good idea of what the company is looking for and if they’re a good fit. Not so much on the UserTesting mobile app, where the pre-screeners and test descriptions are often hidden from the main page.
This is just one of several drawbacks of the software.
In our experience, we qualified for roughly 1-in-15 older tests (available on the platform for at least a day), and 1-in-10 new tests. Our luck was slightly better than average on PC because we could simply skip over the pre-screeners that weren’t a good fit.
Taking tests on UserTesting
Once you qualify for a test, you’ll have to take it immediately, so make sure you have about 20 minutes to spare.
There are a few prerequisites for testing.
- You’ll have to install the UserTesting Browser Recorder extension on PC/Mac, or an equivalent extension on mobile, so that UserTesting can record your screen.
- You’ll also need a working and enabled microphone. Finally, mobile users will have to enable developer mode. UserTesting walks you through the process before each test, and won’t let you progress until everything is in order.
- Sometimes a test will require you to download a prototype app, but you’re free to delete it once the test is complete.
As for the tests themselves, they’re pretty straightforward and repetitious. Testers will complete a series of steps, most of which revolve around performing a simple real-world task on the app you’re testing, or answering questions (multiple-choice or written) about the app. After all the steps are complete, and there are usually about 20-30 of them, your recordings are uploaded and the test is sent for approval.
There are a few keys to ensuring that all your tests are accepted:
- Read any instructions out loud. Always follow instructions to the best of your ability
- Provide honest, continual feedback. It’s OK to offer constructive criticism, as long as you’re staying on point. Long gaps of silence are a no-no. Always keep a running dialogue, and explain what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
- Respect the client. Remember, the client is paying you for your feedback, so you owe it to them to perform the test in a quiet, distraction-free environment, and to give the test your full attention.
- Use the right equipment. A broken headset that crackles when you speak is going to bode unfavorably for your future prospects.
Testers are paid $10 for most tests. However, UserTesting has recently introduced “short tests” that pay $4, but only take a few minutes to complete.
Getting rated on UserTesting
Clients have the option to grade you on a 5-star system. Maintaining a high rating is important because it’ll open up more testing opportunities, including higher-paying ones conducted via video conferencing calls.
UserTesting does testers a solid, and manually reviews all 1- and 2-star tests. In addition, it only counts the last 12 ratings toward your average, meaning that you can wipe poor ratings from your record.
The goal is to try and maintain a 4.5 star or higher rating, which is easily achievable if you follow the suggestions we outlined above. Problem is, most clients don’t bother providing a rating. It’s frustrating, but they’re under no obligation to do so.
Signing up for UserTesting
Signing up for UserTesting is a breeze. You simply apply via email, verify your email, and watch a couple of short tutorial videos on how the job works.
After that, you must complete a 10-minute practice test, which does a good job of simulating a test you’ll actually conduct for real money. The practice test also walks you through how to use the UserTesting recorder.
Within a week, you’ll either be accepted or rejected from the site. Or it’s possible that UserTesting isn’t accepting applicants at this time, and you’ll have to check back later. We had no issue getting accepted, but admittedly, we applied for the site a while ago. Things could be different now that more people are working from home.
If accepted, it’s a good idea to fill out your profile. UserTesting distributes testing opportunities based on the information in your profile. In plain language, this means that testers with complete profiles will be matched to more tests.
Be sure to keep your profile updated, as if your profile info doesn’t match the info you provide to clients, you run the risk of receiving a low rating.
UserTesting Available countries
UserTesting has expanded to include testers from many different countries, from all over the globe. Regions from North America, Asia, Europe, and South America are all represented, although testing availability may vary by locale.
Testers from the U.S. Australia, Canada, India, and the U.K. will probably fare best.
How does UserTesting pay you?
UserTesting pays exclusively through PayPal, so you’ll need an account. Note, that your PayPal account doesn’t have to share the same email as your UserTesting account.
On UserTesting, you’ll never have to request a withdrawal. Instead, the site automatically pays you seven days after a test is approved. It’s convenient, but it does make for a lot of small $10 withdrawals, which can be annoying for tracking purposes.
We’d at least like the option to withdraw for larger amounts.
UserTesting mobile app
UserTesting has a dedicated mobile app for both iOS and Android-powered devices. As stated, the app isn’t without its fair share of issues, many of which have been present for years.
On the plus side, there have been some recent improvements. The UserTesting app now features a Completed Test section where users can view the amount they’ve been paid, their total tests, along with specifics on each individual job that they’ve completed. It’s not an earth-shattering feature but comes in handy during tax season.
UserTesting: Points of frustration
For a site that’s been around for eons (in Internet terms), we were pretty disappointed with how buggy the platform is.
- The UserTesting mobile app, while laid out well enough, is extremely slow to load. You’ll waste precious seconds between screeners just waiting for the page to refresh. It’s annoying and ends up costing you more time than you think. And time is money.
- On both desktop and mobile, they’ll be times when you try to take a screener only to find the test is no longer available.
- Some screeners are listed multiple times on the Available Tests page, which just seems sloppy.
- Occasionally a test will crash midway through the process, and you’ll be forced to contact customer support. It didn’t happen enough for us to abandon the site, but let’s just say, some hairs were pulled.
- The email notification system is just bad, alerting you seemingly at random as to when new tests are available. You’re much better off leaving the app running in the background.
There’s no denying that some demographic groups are going to have much better luck on UserTesting than others. For instance, if you’re a student who doesn’t have a job, and doesn’t really use technology for more than checking email and texting, don’t expect to qualify for a lot of tests. That’s just the hard reality.
Ok, so what demographic groups do well on UserTesting? In our opinion, having these attributes will help you find more testing opportunities:
- Small business owner
- An employee at a mid-to-large sized company
- IT professional
- Mobile gamer
- Frequent online shopper
- In the market for a major purchase like a car or house
- Someone who uses a lot of professional-level apps (bookkeeping, project management, Microsoft, etc.)
The list goes on, but this should give you a basic idea.
Getting the most out of UserTesting: Tips and tricks
In addition to what we’ve already mentioned, here are a few more valuable tips and tricks to get the most out of your time on UserTesting:
- If the first pre-screening question asks about something you’re unfamiliar with, don’t bother trying to qualify. You’re probably just wasting time.
- Go through all the new available tests on mobile daily, and try to do so early in the day before they fill up. Many tests can only be completed on mobile.
- Take a break from UserTesting on weekends and holidays, as clients are unlikely to post tests during these times.
- It’s ok to be “lenient” with your answers. If a pre-screener asks if you’re familiar with a website, and you’re not, there’s nothing wrong with checking it out and then revisiting the screener. Just don’t completely game the system by lying — it’ll reflect in your rating.