Caffeinated Usability Testing—Fast, Cheap and in a Cafe

Even with discount testing, you sometimes need subjects fast and cheap and user experience research. One easy place to find subjects is a nearby cafe. Here are some suggestions for doing this.

Dealing with the cafe’s staff

Firstly, I always buy something at the cafe right away; this is to show I understand this is a place of business and am a patron. Another way to endear yourself to the store is to buy gift cards as payment to subjects. That said, I’ve found people prefer cash.

Remember even though you made a purchase, if the cafe’s staff does not like what you are doing, they will let you know. Should that happen, be ready to be super respectful and stop or leave if asked.

Dealing with subjects

The main thing is to be respectful. Don’t go to every person, and keep your pitch short. If they say no, move on.

Another method is to bring a sign. Something like an 8.5×11 taped to the back of your laptop screen. State what you need, approximate time and what you will pay. I’d go with the gift certificates in this case and setup on the path from the door to the ordering area. In this case, you are waiting for people to come to you. This can also be less disruptive.

Just be upfront with what you want and what you are offering.

Here’s an example:
Hi, I’m testing out a new website that … [tell them about your site in one sentence). I’m looking for a few people to help test out the site, it only takes about 15 minutes, and I’m giving out Starbucks gift cards in exchange for the help (show cards to show you are for real).

Some people will not have time. Whatever the rejection, say thank you and be sure to smile.

It gets easier after the first couple of people.