$1 User Testing — Simple and cost effective

Usability testing NEED NOT be expensive or time taking

Every year, UX teams invest thousands of dollars in usability testings. Most of this money goes in setting up usability labs and bringing users into the lab. It takes weeks before any effective observation is made to refine your interface. It also requires UX team and test users to be available at a mutually convenient time and place (in-person or virtually).

In reality, traditional ways of usability testing require investing too much of time and money which is not affordable for startups, but the good news is it doesn’t have to!!

Thanks to technology which has made usability testing even more effective and a breeze. The solution is ridiculously simple, easy and above all cost-effective — How about paying 1 dollar to record a review? Sounds crazy, isn’t it?

Here’s how you can set-up an excellent usability in just $1 per review?

Yes, you read that perfectly! Let get you started.

1. Create a Paper Prototypes for FREE


  1. Napkins/sheets of paper/a Whiteboard (whichever is in closer vicinity)
  2. Pencil
  3. CanvasFlip Android / iPhone app
  4. Scissors (not mandatory)

As interfaces are becoming more complex, the development schedules seem to get shorter and shorter, under such situations designers are always in favor of something simpler. And correct me if I am wrong — The only thing better than a cool new UX design is a paper prototype! All you need is sheets of paper or napkins lying by your side, pencils, a mobile phone with CanvasFlip app (with a freemium account) and your imagination.

Start with a piece of paper that resembles the shape and dimension of the screen you are designing for.

In case you want to make this creative process more playful and fun, try doodling out on 3×5 sticky notes! It is a close approximation to the screen size of mobile devices and of course more colorful!

Snap pictures of these hand drawn sketches from the CanvasFlip iPhone or android app, which are instantly uploaded to your CanvasFlip account. Prototype them and you are all set to test them.


Are paper prototypes reliable for user testing?

Recent research by Dries De Roeck and David Geerts shows that lower-fidelity prototypes can be more valuable concerning both high and low-level user interactions.

I recently read a brilliant answer by Steve Schirra about the paper prototyping-

The idea behind paper prototypes is to have the user focus on core flows within the application — to understand their mental models — rather than focus on the design and polish. In fact, I would say the key benefit of using paper prototypes is to help users — and the product team — not think of what they’re looking at as a real, finished product. That things are flexible, that they can add and remove ideas on a whim. That it’s open for discussion and brainstorming.

Tip — A CanvasFlip FREEmium account is enough to create 3 prototypes!

2. Recruit users to test your paper prototype

A paper prototype usability-testing session works much like any other usability testing session. It begins with selecting a range of testers who represent your expected audience.

So, get out of the building asap and find them!

Here is a user persona which I made while conducting usability tests for Instagram-

When designing for the mass market, it’s easy to ask friendly looking strangers if they have a couple minutes to spare. Definitely, it’s not the same case when you have a specific target audience.

But, either way, visit places where you could spot users of your user persona. Traditionally, you have to sit with each of them, ask them to use your prototype, and meanwhile you observe them. To save this extra amount of time and effort, CanvasFlip allows you to share the prototype via email or URL. Having said that, we do not want you to compromise on the insights you would get by the traditional approach.

Just grab the email ids of users you spotted.

Tip : Coffee shops are great because you’ll often find test subjects from varying cultural backgrounds and different age ranges. Buying them a cup of coffee would definitely help in collecting email ids!

3. How many users do you need to test with?

Five. Yes 5!

Wondering if 5 testing credits would be enough for your usability test? Here’s your answer — 5 users are simply great to validate your idea.

This very famous write-up by Jacob Nielson shows “why you only need 5 users to validate an idea”.

The graph below, interesting shows that zero users give zero insights. The moment you test with a single user, your insights shoot up. By the time you have tested with the third user, you would found out near about 75% of the usability issues. As you add more and more users, you learn less and less because you will keep seeing the same issues again and again.

Requirements for the test —

  1. CanvasFlip’s 5 user testing credits ($1 each)

What to do with the 5 user testing credits on CanvasFlip?

With CanvasFlip, you can share your project with multiple users for reviewing without exhausting a single credit. But for recording the session of a user, you need a testing credit each. I promised this article would talk about a cost-effective usability test. So here it is — just 1$ for each user testing credit!

Share your prototype with 5 users and record their sessions. Each dollar spent for user insights includes

  1. User videos — the complete record and replay of user’s session,
  2. Conversion funnel that spots the screens with maximum drop-offs, the most popular flow and more…and
  3. Interaction heat maps that visually help analyse the areas of maximum attention and engagement.


4. Analyze user testing results on CanvasFlip

Analyzing the test results is the most crucial step in usability testing. It’s important to figure out the takeaways from the test and decide how much impact should the results have on the current designs.

  • Analyse where users are dropping off in your UX-flow:


  • Where users are interacting most within the interface


  • Watch precisely every friction point of the user


Hurdles CanvasFlip targets to overcome

  1. No need to create high fidelity mockups — get started with hand-drawn wireframes.
  2. Remote usability testing at test user’s natural environment and convenience
  3. Low cost helps you involve user testing early and often

Wrapping up

Testing ideas before proceeding, has been preached for a long time. Designers and companies are usually hesitant about the same because of the effort and cost involved. But I am sure there would be nothing stopping you from testing your ideas and iterations at every step in the project when you have spent just $1 for a testing credit!

Go ahead and test often.

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Monika Adarsh