Userbrain: Make Usability testing

Userbrain : We want to change the way how people build websites and web-based products and services

Please introduce yourself and your startup Userbrain briefly!
Userbrain is a team of 5 people who want to change the world … of course. Why else
would you want to found a startup 😀 To give a more precise answer: We want to change the way how people build websites and web-based products and services. How? By making user feedback an expected part of their workflow, and thus helping them constantly improve their user experience. We send our customers video and audio recordings of real people testing their websites, web apps and prototypes every week. They’ll see where users struggle on their site and find out how to improve their product and make it easier for new users to adopt.

How did the idea of Userbrain evolve and how did you get together as a team?
The original idea came from our client business. Four of us started a user experience agency called Simplease in 2010. As Simplease, we helped many small and large companies alike to improve their products with user research, iterative design and user testing. From a Simplease perspective, things were running great. Our clients saw many positive effects and were happy to work with us (they still are). But one thing bothers us: if product teams hire outside experts to take care of the testing, they will waste a great opportunity to learn about user behavior and how to
improve their solutions on their own. That’s why we wanted to create a simple way for busy teams to do user testing for themselves. And we wanted this service to be affordable, so that as many people as possible can make it a habit to experience the power of constant user feedback.

What have been the biggest challenges to get from the idea to starting, and how have you financed yourself?
The biggest challenge to get from the idea to finally start, is to understand that you can already start. Now!
It took us years to realize this … The idea of Userbrain came up 2 or 3 years before we finally launched our marketing website at the end of 2014. We only worked on it for 4 days and all we had were 3 pages explaining Userbrain and a sign up where people could transfer their money to our PayPal account (we didn’t even have a way to accept credit cards back then).
The rest of the service didn’t exist. We simply wrote an article explaining why Userbrain is different than other user testing services and promoted it on Designer News . All we wanted was people to go on our website to hope that anyone leaves a comment—or maybe even signs up to Userbrain. Some people actually did, and now we had to find a way to deliver our service, so these people really get what they have paid for.
As I said before, we’re sending our customers video and audio recordings of people testing their website every week. Today our users record their videos with our iOS app and our Google Chrome extension. But in the first few weeks we didn’t have any of these tools. We just created an ad and asked people on freelancing platforms to record themselves (with their own tools) and we paid them for uploading their videos. We didn’t need any financial investments whatsoever to make this work. All we needed was to invest our time. And we do the same thing today.

Who’s the target audience of Userbrain?
People who want to build user-friendly websites and web apps, and get a user’s perspective throughout all development cycles. And today, products are always in development … That’s why Userbrain is great for product teams and SaaS businesses—it’s lightweight and informative, comes to you week after week and it requires less effort than comparable services.
Our target audience are owners of ecommerce sites who want to grow their business. It’s startup founders who want to see if people actually understand their website. It’s product managers who want to provide their team with constant user feedback. All of these people are Userbrain customers, and the one thing that connects them is, they all want their product to be easy to use. They may be in different situations and have different reasons why they use our service, but they all want to improve their user experience.

What service are you offering?
We send you videos of new people testing the usability of your website or web app every week. Userbrain doesn’t require any coding or testing knowledge. You just enter the URL you want to test and we will help you set up your first test and get going.
Our users will record their screens and voices while testing your site on their own phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers. You get short videos (usually 5 to 15 minutes) and you can download them or use a link to share them with your team. You can write your own test scenario and tell our users what you want them to do and ask them questions about your product or service. Here’s an example video if you want to see it in action.

How much does it cost?
Userbrain starts at $29 per month. Our smallest plan includes one video of new people testing your website every month. That’s the least you can do 🙂 Our favorite plan includes one video every week and it’s only $49 per month; that’s less than $12 per video! Additionally we offer 6-packs of videos for $90 if you ever need more user feedback at once. On top we offer a 3-video/week plan for $149 per month. You can cancel, upgrade, or downgrade your account at any time without any additional fees. Plus, we offer a 30-day money-back guarantee on all plans. Here’s an
overview of our prices .

What are your plans for the future? Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
Our next steps include implementing frequent customer requests, like video annotations and formatting options for the test scenarios. Besides that we want to dedicate more time to the promotion of Userbrain. Some of our customers are paying for over a year now, and this proves that we’re
providing a useful service. Now we need more people to know about this service, so they can start using it as well. And as we grow our customer base, we keep improving Userbrain and provide even more value. For example, we want to do something like a TV series. We call it Weekly Usability
Workout and we take a look at websites, show how we test them, and present our findings and recommendations for how to improve the sites. We test something new each week and keep posting the videos on our blog, video sharing platforms and on social media.
It’s a win-win situation for everyone. On one hand we have content we can promote to get more site visitors, and on the other hand we educate these people about how to do their own usability testing with Userbrain.

Finally: Any tips you’d like to share with aspiring founders?
The biggest challenge is to know what you should do. Seriously! The moment you found a startup, you’ll be confronted with a myriad of duties and possible things to do. And even if you’re backed by investors, you will never be able to try everything that’s on your plate. You have to decide what’s really important. The best way to do this is by focusing on the things that won’t change. This tip is from Jason Fried, co-founder of Basecamp and I’ll leave you with an excerpt of his blog article from 2007 :
The best business advice I’ve ever heard was this: “Focus on the things that won’t change.” Today and ten years from now people will still want simple things that work. Today and ten years from now people will still want fast software. Today and ten years from now people will still want fair prices. I don’t believe we’ll have a “I want complex, slow, and expensive products” revolution in 2017.

Thank you Stefan for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

Sabine Elsässer

Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

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