I have had the luxury of working with many new innovative testing services over the last few years. Working for startups forces me to look outside of the decades old testing approaches and find solutions that allow us to quickly ramp up and down testing resources as needed at a low price point. The pay as you go testing business model is a game changer. Here are three companies I have leveraged with great success and at insanely low costs compared to what it would cost to access as many resources in the traditional testing world.
#1 SOASTA - Performance Testing
SOASTA turned the performance testing industry upside down a few years back and haven’t looked back since. In fact SOASTA and my former startup M-Dot Network were the first to break the 1 million concurrent users barrier back in 2009. It only took two weeks of elapsed time for SOASTA to write the necessary scripts to simulate one million grocery store lanes sending us transactions to measure our performance and identify our bottlenecks. SOASTA fired up several hundred servers on their end and we fired up a handful on our end. We ran our tests for a few hours and shut off all the resources when we were done. We were able to watch numerous views of various metrics in real time and received a detailed performance report at the end. A test of this magnitude is not even feasible in an on-premise setting because one would have to buy or lease all of that hardware. It would take months to set it up if there was even space, budget, and resources to do so. The pay as you model allowed us to ramp up traffic to incredible levels and discover and fix our bottlenecks before they become a production crisis that cost us users and revenue. Check out their mobile testing suite.
Key take away: Test at large scale without procuring huge amounts of hardware and testing licenses. Setup and test in short amount of time.
#2 UTest- Crowdsourced Testing
Another company I have used in the past and will be using in the future is UTest. UTest has over 70,000 testers across the globe and collectively provide their customers with every mobile device and tablet, across every network provider, in practically every geography. I used UTest at M-Dot as well. We had an extremely small team and a single QA resource at the time. For a minimal charge we secured about a dozen virtual resources strategically located in various cities across the states with different combinations of devices, browsers, and networks. UTest not only provided us with usability and functional testing, but they also measured performance and latency for us. We did not have to build out a lab with numerous devices and data access plans. Instead we leveraged the devices and access plans of the testers. When we were done the resources left and moved on to other projects. We did not have to go through all the HR process of hiring and screening employees and/or consultants. We did not buy any hardware or licenses. Most importantly, as was the case with SOASTA, we ramped up and down in just a few short weeks.
Key take away: Quickly ramp up low cost testing resources without the need to purchase devices and tablets and get real end user performance insights from a geographically dispersed team using multiple operating systems and browsers.
#2 UserTesting.com - Crowdsourced User Experience Feedback
Anybody familiar with the Lean Startup methodologies knows the importance of getting a minimal viable product (MVP) out quickly to capture real consumer feedback. One of the challenges of this practice is finding volunteers and/or low paid helpers to try your products and provide valuable feedback to help drive the product development with a minimal investment in time and money. Startups are trained to iterate through this build-measure-learn cycle until they have a shippable product.
Usertesting.com has made it quick and easy to find able and willing users who get paid $10 a website review to provide feedback. This frees up us extremely busy startup folks from spending time hunting for people to provide feedback so we can focus more time on product development. Usertesting.com provides a nice interface that captures both audio and video of the users’ 10-15 minute user experience and provides incredible feedback to the developers and the product owners. There is tremendous value for developers and product owners to witness a user using their products. Usertesting.com provides that content without requiring anybody to travel and provides the added value of allowing developers and product owners to view the content when it is convenient as opposed to scheduling meetings that lock up and distract precious resources from building products.
Key take away: Cost effective way to get real user experience feedback without spending time hunting for volunteers, without travel, and without meetings. Pay as you go!
These are the three Testing as a Service companies I have used in the past. I am sure their are plenty of others as well. You don’t need to be a startup to take advantage of these cost effective, quick to market solutions. If you are not using the services of these three companies or other companies like them, I highly recommend you give them a try.