Where to find people to test with

First ask yourself this:

"Why would anybody spend time to test my prototype?"

This will make you understand how to find people to test your product with. Here are my answers:

  • To get something in return
    • You pay them to do the test
    • You give them something for free (a random present, or a free account to your product, or free help on something they need)
  • To help you - why?
    • Because they love you (e.g. friends and family)
    • Because you are part of the community and it's in their values to help each other (e.g. indiehackers.com)
    • Because you helped them and they want to help you back (for example I do free 1-1 UX advice sessions with people from indiehackers.com community. This way I meet new people, build relationships by helping them and I can ask them to help me back if I ever need it in the future)
    • Because they believe in you and your product and want to have an impact on how it will evolve in the future. They want to be heard. (for example I give free user feedback to the framer.com because I like them and they are my main design tool. I do the same for bunq.com, my digital bank)
    • Because you asked them for help and they want to be polite and don't mind spending a few minutes to help you. (for example cold contacting people through DMs or email)

Don't pick one group only. Mix and experiment.

There is not a single audience you should test with. The advice of “never test with your team” or never test with the same person more than one time for example are not correct. My advice is to mix the groups you test with and take it easy. Don’t think of good and bad practices. Experiment and see what works and what doesn’t. Below you can see all of the available groups that I have come up with so far.

Where to find people

Friends and family

If your app is not focused on a very niche audience (e.g. engineers) then you can test it with your friends and family. For example I am building pandasnap.io with Scotty and we use our friends to do user testing since it's not a product that they can't understand. This way we can test frequently with them, and they are accessible all the time.

On top of this, we also test with fellow designers and makers from our personal networks that are real users, and balance the feedback this way.

Your team

Many can say that this is a bad advice. I will say, “it depends”. In TicketSwap, where I was leading the design team before I start creating these UX courses, the team was using the product a lot. TicketSwap is a marketplace to buy tickets for festivals and all of us would try to get tickets for festivals in the Netherlands (where we are based at). Therefore our team could provide some really good user feedback since we were dog-fooding our product. The only thing we made sure was to test it mainly with people outside of the product team (e.g. support, marketing, sales, office managers, HR) because they were less technical and we could get better insights this way.

So think first if your team is actual users of the product and if yes then test it with them.

Just be careful to not only focus on testing with your team. You always need fresh and external perspectives.

Your audience

If you have a newsletter or blog or active twitter account then you can reach out to your audience for help.

Every post and email you created and shared in the past is actually helping them. You spent time sharing your knowledge and insights and they are grateful for that. So feel free to ask them for some feedback when you need it.

For example I have my own mailing list from my public newsletter called "12 months to Indie Hacking" where I share every week everything that happens behind the scenes.

Here is another example of how you can ask for feedback using Twitter from csalen, the founder of indiehackers.com

A community you are part of

A screenshot from Indie Worldwide slack community
A screenshot from Indie Worldwide slack community

Communities are one of the best choices to give and ask for help. It's part of their DNA to help each other, celebrate their wins and learn from their failures. Some communities I am part of are:

In each of these communities you can find groups that are focused on design feedback exchange. You can share your prototype there and people will share their thoughts. Also if you want you can take it even a step further and message people to get to know them, help them with their product and ask for their help.

Just make sure to not be that person that joined and posted only once in the community to ask for feedback. People will notice and won’t probably help you. First help somebody and then ask for help. That’s how communities work.

What I personally do is to offer free 1-1 video calls to the community every month, and help fellow indie makers with their UX. This way I build a network of people who trust me, have received help from me and I can reach out to ask for feedback.

Also Scotty the guy I joined to build pandasnap.io with, is active on the the /webdev subreddit and he asked for their feedback when he first launched padnasnap.

Your users

If you already have a product with users you should ask them if they are interested into helping you test new features you build. This can be done in many ways, and here are some of them:

  • Build a mailing list of the users that are interested, by asking to sign up through a widget in your product. I did this in TicketSwap and we had dozens of people that joined.
  • Build a community in telegram/whatsapp/discord/slack. Indie products like Hypefury, Framer, and Simpleanalytics already do this and works pretty well.

Fiverr and other freelancing platforms

You can pay freelancers there to use your prototypes and send you their feedback.

Amazon Mechanical Turk

Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is a crowdsourcing marketplace that makes it easier for individuals and businesses to outsource their processes and jobs to a distributed workforce who can perform these tasks virtually. This could include anything from conducting simple data validation and research to more subjective tasks like survey participation, content moderation, and more.

Airport community for iOS apps

Airport is the best place to discover new TestFlight apps from developers. You can get your latest TestFlight app in front of others who are ready to test and give you feedback to iterate and improve your experience.

People you find online and cold-contact

You can always cold contact people through your social media or e-mail them and ask for their feedback.

Here are some great examples on how to contact them and increase the chances of getting a reply https://marketingexamples.com/coldemail. On top of this what I do and helps is to tell these people "I know your time is valuable and I am willing to pay for it if you want to". This way they see that I am not an asshole and that I respect their time. Risking and making the suggestion to pay shows immediately that I am a legit non-selfish person.

User testing tools

Most of the user testing tools offer a pool of testers that you can use and pay for. Check out the next chapter where I have the full list of them!