How do you do user testing when you need a specific audience and can't afford expensive software?

Hi everyone, I'm a first time founder and I'm trying to do user testing on the prototype version of my venture's website. I'm bootstrapping and can't afford expensive software such as, but I need a specific audience: women in the US ages ~22 - 36 who are either trying to conceive OR pregnant OR who have given birth in the past 12 months. Are there alternatives to software such as (I've looked at competitors - userbrain, usabilityhub, etc. but they all seem to be similarly $$$)? I don't have many people in personal network that meet my criteria, and I feel like I've already made asks for feedback from the ones that do, so I'm looking for other options. Many thanks in advance for any advice or resources that might be helpful! Or if you meet this criteria and would be open to being a tester for me, please reach out :)
Hi,You might try partnering with local non-profit organizations who may have members who meet your criteria, e.g., commit to making a donation to their organisation if they forward a message to their members asking for volunteers to test your software from you. You might even suggest increasing your donation if a certain number of their members participate. Another possibility is to partner with a local university where user center design, user experience design, and/or human-computer interaction is taught, e.g., in Schools of Information, Information and Library Science or Computer Science at universities. Perhaps what you want to do could become a student project, giving students an opportunity to work on a real world project and be mentored by an entrepreneur (who could also write a good recommendation letter when the students start looking for work.) To get volunteers, it's often important to understand and communicate how volunteering aligns with the goals or needs of the volunteers.
Have you checked out the Nielsen Norman UX get their free email newsletter with lots of tips on testing methods
I haven't - will definitely take a look though!
Do you have any amount you're comfortable spending on this?If you can put a little $$ into it, but less than those sites you mentioned, I'd recommend running FB/IG ads to that audience group, incentivize with a free gift card, and use an Ad format of lead form or Messenger form – the form can get the 'signup' and contact info, and you can reach back out for scheduling, and run the testing yourself. What's nice about these is that you know you'll get a relevant audience because the ad can be written for who you're talking to, and eventually you'd advertise here anyway. You can qualify those leads to your criteria with the built-in form, and even leverage those audience learnings for customer acquisition down the road.Alternatively, while your immediate network might not reach that criteria, there are ways to break into and find those groups online (Facebook for example is full of them). If you can incentivize with a $5-10 gift card, I'm sure there are people out there who would participate.No matter what you do now, you'll need to figure out where to find this audience to grow the business, so it's all a good exercise!
Thank you!
Hey Becky, I'd recommend searching for communities (FB/IG) and forums to find people in your target audience. I've had really good results just reaching out this way. If you're solving a problem for people, I find they're generally very happy to try out something because it's helpful for them. Also, I'd post on elpha and do a call out. I've seen this as a really successful strategy for others.
Thank you! I'll start with elpha and then try FB/IG too
Hi @beckyallen - It sounds like you are looking for a target demographic to try your prototype and give you feedback. In that case, I think focus-group style work would do wonders to give you a sense of how people are interacting with your product and how that can better guide the value they want to glean from it. You typically don't need many people to identify patterns (7-10 is usually the goal), and you can do simple outreaches within your own communities and/or some targeted ads if you do want to spend a little on advertising (but I'd try free advertising first, and save some $$ to give them a gift card for their time!) I love @Cori23's suggestion about partnering with local non-profits or universities. It'll take a little bit of work to adapt the traditional model in a COVID world, but still feasible. If you mean testing as in QA, then that's a bit of a different ballgame. You'll want to take the time to define a really explicit test script, but then you can still find cheaper testing resources using friends & family QA or finding testers using something like UpWork. I won't go into more detail because I don't think that's really what you're after, but happy to chat further if you are looking for lean QA methods as well :)
Hi BeckyI am in the process of developing a virtual assistant and one of her services is assisting founders with testing/surveys. As a fellow founder, this has been inspired by a hugeeeeeeeeee pain point in my journey to building a start-up. Basically we will send your required testing to fellow founder/s to complete and in turn you would complete some of their survey/s. The time commitment is totally dependant on your needs and availability. We are in beta testing stage and currently do not have any founders at the moment who meet your criteria, however if you want to please feel free to sign up for beta testing and I can let you know if we find any matches for you in the near future. https://www.quinlytix.comAll the best with your start-up:)Maddalena
This is a great product Maddalena! I work on product and market strategy and nothing is more frustrating then trying to rapidly iterate with limited consistent user research. Signed up for the beta version but DM me if there are more ways to assist.
Thank you so much for the message. I will keep your details on hand and reach out in the near future.
AppSumo currently has a deal for a tool to see how one's site is used. It won't give you all the answers you are looking for and isn't targeted to your demographics, but it may give you a piece of what is needed.
Hi @beckyallenLots of useful replies already there, just to add one more to it, came across this one recently I have not used it personally but seems to be a good one. See if you'd want to check this one out!
Thank you so much everyone! These ideas and advice are all helpful!
Hey Becky, Have you tried getting creative with where they might be hanging out online. Mumsnet? FB groups etc..? Try starting a conversation in there and then seeing how you can convert them into a one on one conversation and maybe set it up to be on the phone.The other thing I'd encourage you to do is to think about what you can offer them now in return for feedback? For example, when I was testing a product with teenagers we went into schools & showcased our tech as an example of 'women entrepreneurs in tech' and as part of showcasing it they used it! So we got to ask them questions and got loads of feedback through that,
Hi Becky, AUDIENCE:Modern Community a Slack group is where your ideal audiences hang out, I believe!!USER TESTING:I opt for Airtable forms or Typeforms if ever I need to take surveys. But I believe in having 1:1 user interviews for 10 mins wherein I meet my ideal users on Zoom and show them Protoype in Invision (Free) or Figma and have a real conversation there! I also go one step ahead and make a customized prototype to have them feel as if they are the one using it. This really depends on the nature of the product though. I carve our 10 mins before the meeting to make it personalized. It really helps in a meaningful way! And it's very easy to do in Invision and Figma. Let me know if I can help you in some way,Best, Shalvi
You've already received a bunch of great suggestions and I agree that leveraging facebook and/or slack communities are ideal. As a mom myself, I belong to various Facebook groups which are very active and whose members are really into helping each other. If you aren't your target audience, I suggest having a friend or representative who is to post on your behalf – it will be more authentic that way. I live in the SF Bay area and would be happy to post on your behalf in a few local communities.
Thank you Erin! I'm realizing my initial target audience may actually be first time moms-to-be, either trying to conceive or in early pregnancy. Though I appreciate the offer and if you happen to know anyone in this more specific group, would love to connect :)
Got it! I know one person in that category right now. Depending on what it is you want to learn from this group, it might be worthwhile also talking to moms who were in the position recently. I still remember what it was like! I was tossing around an idea for this target that I did some early research on so happy to chat live if you’re interested.
I would love to chat! I'll DM you to coordinate.