Can valuable insight into your UI be gathered from intoxicated users? Market research company Three Sheets seems to think so. As a former Quality Assurance Specialist, I am drawn to new testing methodologies. What are the reasons and benefits to performing this kind of testing?
In their own words:
We started Three Sheets because we, too, have fumbled our way through a smartphone app at 3AM. We’ve also failed at ordering nachos online, when we really, really wanted them. We understand the frustration of waiting in line at the post office to return two dozen pairs of shoes, a Mickey Mouse fun pool and that mushroom kit that never works.
Nowhere else will you find this combination of research acumen and customer empathy. So give us a call and we’ll tell you more about how our research experience can help transform your customer experience.
Choose Three Sheets Market Research. Because your customers drink.
~ threesheetsresearch.com | About Us
I can only think of a small set of businesses who could benefit directly from optimizing their website for the intoxicated; maybe pizza delivery, or taxi services? The whole Three Sheets website seems to be a little tongue-in-cheek and hard to take seriously.
It is a fact that 20% of all online shopping happens after midnight.*
* We think.
~ threesheetsresearch.com | Our Approach
I had to stop thinking of the users as “drunks,” and started thinking of them as clumsy, uninhibited, and truthful testers…
A rational person could hate the color of a website and simply not say anything. A rational person could get silently frustrated when a navigational element is hard to find but not report it. It is unlikely these UI issues would sneak past the uninhibited drunk. Of course, you wouldn’t go changing the color of your website because one drunk said so, but that gut-reaction may still be valuable to note, especially if the same feedback comes from multiple users. If an intoxicated person has trouble navigating your website, perhaps there is a way to improve the navigation?
Three Sheets Research has several videos of the user testing in progress and has highlights and a conclusion for each of four products: Nike FuelBand, Windows 8, MySpace, and Online Sneaker Design. You can watch them for yourself and decide if they are useful. I can certainly think of many ways to improve the testing process. Obviously testing one user per product is insufficient to form an accurate conclusion. A true testing initiative would call for a much larger sample size.
But even after you have done the tests on a large enough user base to draw conclusions, is that information more valuable than just using sober testers? If you had $3,000 in your QA budget, how much of that should be allocated for drunk testing? The practical answer very well could be zero. Unless, like previously stated, you literally need to optimize for intoxicated users.
I am interested in seeing a case study from Three Sheets Research. Until then, it is too risky and I will remain skeptical.