Next Generation User Testing — Why We are Backing Usertimes

We are extremely excited to announce our first investment as a student run VC into Usertimes — a company that aims to make user testing a breeze — making life easier for both UX researchers as well as users. With their platform the time from initial prototype to satisfied customers is reduced dramatically.

Why does a good user experience matter?

We’ve all had bad experiences interacting with products — at best it left us scratching our head over the decisions of the designers, at worst it got us to either stop using the product or to take actions we didn’t intend.

The 2000 US election ballot is probably the most infamous example of bad design having dramatic unintended consequences — likely costing Gore the victory in Florida by confusing enough voters to vote for the Reform party’s candidate.

To allow users to interact in an efficient and easy way, a good user experience (UX) is key. User experience is all about how users interact with a product. This obviously includes the general usability, but also extends to accessibility, performance and design and aesthetic concerns. Designing your product in a way that feels natural and easy to use sadly is a highly non-intuitive process — designers simply can’t possibly account for all the different ways users might interact with a product. That’s why it is key to iteratively adapt your design based on feedback and input you gather from your users.

Ultimately, a good product design is inherently in the interest of every business: If your product is easy to navigate and gets the user what he wants in a fast and comfortable way, said users will be more willing to pay a premium or spend more time with your service.

So, where does Usertimes come in?

Usertimes — user testing for the modern age

The general way to see if your design offers your users an intuitive and easy experience is a testing session with a representative subset of your user base. This typically takes the form of in-person interviews and observations of how users interact with your product. This, however, comes with serious downsides in its current implementation:

  1. User testing is expensive as it generally requires a specialized setup for in-person testing (e.g. a special user testing lab with minimal distraction and equal setup for every user) to generate accurate results. Most of the time this is outsourced to an external agency — making the testing even more expensive.
  2. The testing process takes significant time, as testing process (developing the question catalogue, finding the right test subjects, performing the test and evaluating/ summarizing the results) is still highly manual at most agencies offering these services.
  3. Evaluating and comparing results across subjects and sessions for spotting patterns in data can easily become confusing and difficult to handle.

Given these limiting factors user testing oftentimes is only performed towards the end of the product development cycle (as earlier testing is impractical) and generally serves only as the check mark in the report from the development team to the management showing “we’ve done testing”. Ultimately that’s a situation where both the customers and the company lose out on potential value.

Usertimes steps into the ring offering “user testing as a service” by automating the process of testing a product or certain features in an end-to-end fashion. Through their service developers can chose the target demographic they want to test their features with, get recommendations on what testing methods to apply and basically only need to define the questions that they want the users to answer — Usertimes takes care of the rest including evaluation support through its interactive platform.

"We enable UX teams to unleash their full potential by supporting efficient user testing and insight analysis in order to design delightful products. While UX specialists will be able to act out their profession to the fullest, our platform assists them in common research tasks, identifying themes, sharing their findings and making their projects a success."
— Jonas Fuchs, CEO Usertimes Solutions GmbH

This allows developers to validate their work and gain insights into their users’ behavior in a fraction of the time and for a fraction of the cost. The really exciting effect of this is that this enables testing to be integrated into every step of the product development cycle, permitting developers to really test assumptions about user behavior at an early stage and — through the automatically generated reports — to integrate user feedback at a stage where iterating still is relatively easy and cheap. Basically, Usertimes helps companies to build products customers love!

Why we chose to invest

In Usertimes we can find the definition of our investment thesis — a very strong team with 1) great cohesion and a track record of developing ideas into something that customers love, 2) a strong technical foundation at the core of the business, 3) a deep understanding of the market and the field its in and 4) — as a cherry on top — visible traction with initial customers.

We were able to observe the team’s progress in both it’s elements as well as a unit for quite some time through our shared activity in and around the PionierGarage. On the road ahead we are sure that Usertimes will grow to be a force to be reckoned with in the user testing space and will help to make a ton of products more intuitive and pleasurable to use — we are excited to be part of that journey and to provide some extra momentum!

Young startups will change the world. To support them with capital and know-how at an early stage, we’re building Germany’s first student-run VC. Read more at, stay up-to-date with our newsletter or get in touch through Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn