Unusual CustDev. Life hack for testing products

An interesting thing happened a year ago – we came up with an unusual way to test our product. The approach influenced all processes in the company and influenced the growth of the client base. Now more than 50 tests have been carried out, and there is something to share.

Rather, the method relates to Customer Development tools and draws the entire development team into analysis. Each test is watched with interest by both programmers and designers. Debates and discussions on how to fix a bug or UX problem instantly flare up.

Growth graph of the number of active users of the system per day

I tried to tell other product teams about the approach, but without examples, the topic remains unsolved. One team out of four tried it – and also got an excellent result.
Under the cut – I will try to tell you in detail about how not quite usually we test Yougile, with examples and details.

The essence of the 4-sentence approach

1. We describe the case of using the system, for example: “Imagine that you are a small web studio, and you need to schedule tasks for developing a website for 5 people …”
2. We go to freelance and post the task with the described case: “Organize a workflow in the control system (without first studying the system) and record your experience on a screen video” (500 rubles / hour or a little more).
3. We receive 10-15 responses, order 2-4 tests, we look at double speed with rewinding, we are stunned by the real picture of using the system, after which we send 1-2 of the most successful videos to the team.
4. We make edits and fix bugs, we repeat the cycle and achieve an almost perfect solution to the case from the side of random users.

This is what one of the options for the task looks like
You must register in the YouGile system.

Here you need to organize a small team to work on a project in the management system. You can organize anything from the construction of a high-rise building to a wedding. You can choose any business, the main thing is that you have a rough understanding of how such projects are implemented.

You will need (you can not be limited to this):

  • register on the site ru.yougile.com
  • enter the structure of the company into the system (people, departments, positions, etc.)
  • create a task distribution process
  • prioritize
  • understand how to monitor the process and receive reports.

It is important to comment on your thoughts and actions while recording on-screen video.

Profit – interesting moments from interface tests

Important details

  • Experience is needed, not opinion. We need the tester to comment exactly on the course of his thoughts and actions while completing the task. But by default people try to come up with ideas on how to improve the system right away. For this reason, videos are most often rejected. Only the visual experience of the first use of the product by a random person is useful, and not an opinion on how to “finish this feature”.
  • It is necessary to set tasks of the “top level”. That is, not “Find a button”, but “Organize a workflow”. And do not try to tell the user how to solve the problem in the formulation of the task, especially if the solution options may be different.
  • This is not a quantitative test, but a qualitative one. You don’t need to hire many people and create a representative picture. The main thing is to understand whether people can cope with the task and whether the product team is happy with how it happens (painful or not). It is enough to order 3-4 tests to be guaranteed to get one meaningful one or pay attention to several episodes from different tests.
  • It is not necessary to look for a tester from your target audience. Almost any confident PC user is suitable, at least for our product. If the product is initially very complex, then the case should be simple. For example, for a complex medical program: “… find where to load the experiment data, start the calculation and get the result, then save it to a file …”.
  • It is necessary to conduct tests on strangers. Casual people are always better than social circles. Friends and acquaintances will quickly run out, and not all of them will want to “hang” for an hour over the interface. And it is the first experience of interaction with the product that is important for us. Testing needs to be done regularly and users with a fresh eye are needed.

The main value of the approach

The product team gets excited to see what happens.

It is excitement! The team is eagerly awaiting new videos after the release, looking at the tests with interest.

For 11 years of participation in product development, this is one of the best CustDev methods that I have discovered for myself. The best in terms of influence on the team.

The designer and the developer are watching as Alexei from Perm tries to find the “Create a project” button for 5 minutes – and they understand very well what and how to change.

What else can you test?


We do this all the time. We know exactly how the giants look in our market through the eyes of users. For example, how long does it take to solve the problem of organizing a simple team in Trello, Jira or Asana, and of course we compare it with ourselves. From such tests, in addition to competing bugs, you can see really working solutions.

How people search for information

We asked freelancers to find project management systems on the Internet and select TOP-3 for themselves for further testing. We watched through which channels they can find us, by what criteria they make a choice. We looked: they open lists on aggregator sites or choose advertisements, read articles with collections of systems or trust those sites that are in the top of the search results.


They say that you need to read your article aloud after writing. But when someone else reads it and gives simple comments, it has a much stronger effect.

An example of how this article is tested

If someone is inspired by the material and conducts such a test, discard the entry in the comments. It is very interesting to see and discuss what happens.

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