Founders Dave Garr and Darrell Benatar discovered a strong unmet need in the user research industry with UserTesting right at the beginning of market trends shifting in their favor. The strengthening focus on user research by software product teams, together with the advent of the smartphone and increasing availability of the internet created great market conditions for a company like UserTesting to succeed.
This is not to take away from their teams ability to execute in building a great product that democratized user research for businesses of all sizes. UserTesting successfully pulled ahead of strong competitors to become the industry leader in user research and a well known name amongst researchers, designers, and other professions relying on user feedback.
UserTesting is a software company that provides on-demand user testing services to businesses of all sizes. Founded in 2007 by Dave Garr and Darrell Benatar, UserTesting has grown to become one of the leading user testing companies in the world, with over 2 million testers in its network and a client list that includes some of the biggest names in technology, retail, and other industries. 15 years after founding, UserTesting was acquired by Thoma Bravo for $1.3B on Oct 27, 2022.
Origins of UserTesting
Darrell Benatar came up with the idea for UserTesting while working on a startup that offered an online marketplace for freelancers. While building the site, he realized that he needed feedback from real users to improve its usability and user experience. However, finding and recruiting testers was a slow and costly process. Traditional usability testing methods involved recruiting a small group of testers, bringing them into a lab, and observing their interactions with the product, which could take weeks and cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Benatar believed that there had to be a more efficient and cost-effective way to conduct user testing. He saw an opportunity to use the power of the internet to connect businesses with a large pool of testers from around the world. He teamed up with his friend and fellow entrepreneur, Dave Garr, and together they founded UserTesting in 2007.
The State of the User Research Industry Before UserTesting
Before the advent of online user testing platforms like UserTesting, businesses had to rely on traditional usability testing methods to recruit testers. These methods involved recruiting a small group of participants, typically through referrals, classified ads, or user research firms, and bringing them into a lab to test the product.
The cost of usability testing could vary widely depending on the complexity of the product, the number of participants, targeting requirements for participant demographics, and the testing method used. For example, bringing a group of participants into a lab for a day-long usability testing session could cost upwards of $10,000 or more.
Businesses also relied on online surveys and focus groups to gather feedback from users. However, these methods were often limited in scope and did not provide the level of detail and insights that could be gained through usability testing.
Overall, finding and recruiting testers for user testing was a slow and often expensive process that required significant resources and expertise.
The Evolution of the User Research Industry
The user research industry has evolved significantly since UserTesting was founded in 2007. Here are some key trends and changes that have taken place:
- Increased focus on user experience: In recent years, there has been a growing recognition among businesses of all sizes that user experience (UX) is a critical factor in the success of products and services. As a result, there has been a greater emphasis on user testing and research to ensure that products meet the needs and expectations of their intended users.
- Expansion of testing methods: While remote user testing was a relatively new concept in 2007, today there are a wide range of testing methods available to businesses, including in-person testing, moderated and unmoderated remote testing, and automated testing.
- Advancements in technology: The exponentially widening availability of internet connectivity and smartphone devices greatly increased the reach and capabilities of remote testing. Also, the development of new technologies such as AI and machine learning have made it possible to conduct more sophisticated and nuanced user testing, such as sentiment analysis and voice-based testing.
Overall, user research has evolved to become a critical component of both the customer and product development process, helping businesses of all sizes to improve the user experience of their products and services and stay ahead of competition.
The Success and Growth of UserTesting
UserTesting successfully found a lucrative opportunity where businesses were spending large sums of money to address an increasingly important yet painful need. At the same time, market shifts in behavior and technology set UserTesting up for success. As a result, UserTesting gained traction relatively quickly after its launch in 2007. The company’s unique approach to user testing and its focus on delivering high-quality testing services at an affordable price quickly resonated with businesses of all sizes.
According to an interview with the company’s founder, Darrell Benatar, UserTesting began generating revenue within its first month of operation. In the years that followed, UserTesting continued to grow rapidly, expanding its customer base and its range of testing services. Today, the company had conducted millions of tests and has over 2,000 customers. Fast forwarding, UserTesting IPO’ed on Nov 17, 2021, and was later acquired by Thoma Bravo and Sunstone Partners for $1.3 billion on Oct 27, 2022.