Last updated:  
Feb 14, 2018 @ 7:03 PM

motivate at home product testersBefore asking “How do I motivate at home product testers?,” we need to assess the importance of at home product testing. With the constant iterations and releases of new products, the one thing every company should have in their back pocket is testing. From in office QA to at home product testers, ensuring the quality of your product is ready for market is crucial. At home testing involves placing your product into real scenarios. Whether it’s a home appliance, tech accessory or an app, putting it in the hands of real users before release can get you some much needed feedback.

Using at home product testers within the product’s target market is important. This authentic usage allows for feedback from those who will be purchasing your product. You can figure out which features are most popular, bugs that you may have missed, feedback on unintuitive interfaces, and get direct input about what the users want.

Usability Woes

A perfect example of a project that could have used the feedback starts with the head waiter at this restaurant. He uses whiteboard markers to comment on the state of guests with reservations, even though their software performs the same function. So whether they’re at the bar, at their table, or still in the waiting area, he would mark it down on a computer screen using a whiteboard marker. Why was he drawing manually on the computer screen instead of marking things with the software? The software wasn’t designed with the environment in mind.

It didn’t take into account the lack of desk space for a mouse or the fast paced hustle and bustle that makes 4 clicks to mark a table 3 clicks too many. The head waiter’s feedback, if given directly to the company, would lead to product designed to be used in the environment of a busy restaurant rather than a calm office.

In-Office vs In-Field Testing

This was when testing real life scenarios in a restaurant would be more practical than testing in-office with software engineers. The advantage of in-office testing is receiving feedback quickly and dynamically acting upon each piece of that feedback, while controlling the test environment for specific metrics. In-field testers, like at home product testers, may give feedback at a slower pace.

Though rigorous and systematic testing with the goal of covering all the parts of the product is needed, in-office testing does not cover real world scenarios. Real world usage is, as one would expect, very different than rigorous QA testing in the lab or office. QA lab testing may help you find all the possible bugs related to specific feature, but at home testing will give you a better idea of what feature the users will use and what bugs or issues they are most likely to encounter.

A popular saying in the UX circle is that you are not your users. You are passionate about your product, you know everything about it and want it to succeed. The user doesn’t care as much about the product’s success, they care about it’s usability. It is important to be careful when communicating with at home testers so as to not bias their feedback, product usage, or experience. So, how do you maintain a good relationship with testers along with the distance needed to minimize risk of influencing the data they collect?

How To Motivate At Home Product Testers

Teamwork

Include them in the team. This can be as simple as CC’ing them on email newsletters, inviting the local testers over to the office and company for events, or simply working with them in real time. In this instance, it is important to build a personal relationship with them, avoiding the topic of the product they are testing. It will have your testers feeling more connected to the individuals at your company, giving them more incentive to put real care into their work.

Proper Onboarding

Make welcoming them to the team a fun experience. Sometimes a little camaraderie goes a long way. Training them like a full-time employee would make them feel more cared for, and have knowledge of the appropriate toolset to follow projects, give feedback, company guidelines and communicate with the project team. Make it absolutely clear it is the product that’s being tested, not them. They should know any feedback they give, positive or negative, is valid. If something is not working, they need to report it while remember that the issue is NEVER with the user.

Be ready to decide whether you want to onboard the tester for product knowledge. If you’re market ready, don’t do any product onboarding. What this means is that the tester should know nothing about how to operate the product before receiving it, so it would be the same as if a consumer were to purchase it and open the box to a brand new experience. The generated feedback may indicate the need for further instructions, so users are able to grasp the full power of the device. Product onboarded testers are going to be better for products that are in progress, and would have no real grounds for the consumer to know how the product works without additional guidance.

Positive Reinforcement

Often we forget about the emotional attachment people have to their work, and the importance of giving positive reinforcement. When a tester goes out of there way to do more, they show initiative or complete certain milestones, it is important to recognize these efforts. Be cautious of giving positive reinforcement for only good feedback or only bad feedback, as this may create a bias in feedback given. Positively reinforce the act of giving lots of quality feedback rather than the content of feedback itself.

Use the Right Tools

As with your internal processes, it is sometimes necessary to add tools in order to smooth out collaboration between you and your at home product testers. Messenger, tracking time, screen capture, document storage, and sharing tools all come into play when sharing feedback. These resources increase efficiency and improve communication. A key part of this is reducing the barriers to give feedback, because you are going to receive less feedback if the process is complicated or inconvenient. Your at home product testers need those tools in order to walk you through their process, show you the results and communicate their feedback, so you know what the test entailed from A to Z.

Give Feedback

Feedback is a gift, so you should treat it like one. Learning to give it is important, as you are paying for a service and the testing performed meet the expected standard. The testers can also use it as a growth opportunity, and become better professionals. More than just giving feedback, your team should be asking for feedback as well. These at home product testers are on the ground and using the test subject as a job, so they would have recommendations as to making the process more effective and efficient.

Our processes are always developing, as we expand our knowledge pool and progressively test more emerging technologies. These tips are sure to guide you straight to a healthy relationship between you and your at home product testers, and we’re sure you’ll develop new strategies on your way. What strategies do you use now to motivate your team?


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