Graphic.ly - a company that opted to release early (and imperfectly) in exchange for valuable user feedback. As companies look to their peers and audiences to help define product features, there's a greater need for scalable testing platforms. Here's a summary of eight useful services that will help put you on the path to product greatness.Over the weekend we had a chance to highlight
UserVoice: In 2008 we wrote an article entitled, Why We Love UserVoice in praise of the Digg-like customer feedback platform. Rather than hiring an on-site focus group, UserVoice gives test participants 10 votes to use as they see fit. From here, audience members vote on priority features while the finite number of votes for each person limits the influence of the vocal minority. The service is priced depending on the number of voters you'd like to engage and offers a 15-day free trial for all premium services.1.
Silverback: Silverback is a usability testing software that allows startups to record both the screen as well as the test participant's facial reactions and voice. Startups follow a subject's eyes and cursor movements while also controlling the service via an Apple remote. Once a subject's session is over, the startup can export the recording to a basic Quicktime video. The service offers a 30 day trial and costs $50 dollars flat rate after that. While it's primarily meant to test site design, it can also double as a great screen capture software for quick demos.2.
Feedback Army: Feedback Army rallies its own community of testers to do your bidding. For $10 dollars you get 10 people to browse your site and offer feedback. The service offers quick turnaround on your projects and received favorable reviews on Hacker News.3.
UserTesting: UserTesting offers on-demand testers priced at $29 dollars per person. For each test session you receive a recorded video of your tester's actions as well as a list of detailed notes. Some of the companies who've tested with UserTesting include Twitter and CNN Money.4.
IdeaScale and Crowdsound: IdeaScale and Crowdsound are almost interchangeable. Both offer a Digg-style interface for voting where users decide their favorite features and what they'd like to see happen with your site. Crowdsound is priced at $10 per month for customizable widgets, iPhone interface and private suggestions. IdeaScale is priced at $15 per month and includes Twitter/email integration.5 & 6.
GetSatisfaction: Similar to IdeaScale and Crowdsound, GetSatisfaction offers a Digg-style interface for product ideas, issues and solutions. Companies tend to moderate questions and feedback themselves and users vote up and down the answers. This community has received praise from a number of media outlets and costs as little as $19 dollars per month. Earlier this year ReadWriteWeb named GetSatisfaction the leading idea aggregator.7.
UTest: UTest offers testing on a subscription and package basis. With packages, clients purchase a set number of test cycles in exchange for a dedicated project manager and feedback from 20-30 professional software testers. The company works with clients on mobile, web, gaming and desktop applications and the idea is that for about $1,500 per month or for a set package of test cycles, you get to outsource your entire testing department.8.
Photo Credit: Dean Shareski