I worked for a mid-sized company for nine years. I loved my job there. I loved my coworkers, my day-to-day, and the impact I had on 8+ million users. Then, out of the blue, the company went through a workforce reduction. After all was said and done, only 4 of the 12 UXers were left, and I was one of them. I saw extremely qualified coworkers scrambling to find comparable work in our town. Once those few jobs were scooped up, people were forced to move closer to cities or take significant pay cuts to stay local. It was heartbreaking to see great UX professionals’ lives uprooted.

After watching my friends struggle, I decided to become proactive. I needed to cultivate a network outside of the workplace. I joined a local creative professionals organization and became an active member. I started donating my time helping design agencies integrate UX practices into their processes. An unforeseen need for UX knowledge sprung up around me organically. It seemed, the more I helped, the more people needed my help. I felt like the local Johnny Apple Seed of UX!

Johnny Apple Seed of UX (Trevor Calabro)

Over time these things started to accumulate and gain momentum. My new network slowly became my new group of friends. The volunteer work evolved into paid work. People began to reach out to me for UX mentoring and training. I started an exciting new job in a larger organization. That’s around the time I decided to up-the-ante on my networking endeavors, and the 1000 FREE Usability Tests Project was born.

The idea for conducting 1000 free usability tests came to me as a simple equation.

My love of conducting usability tests + the scarcity of usability testing knowledge + I want to reach more people through UX = 1000 Free Usability Tests.

My first idea was to conduct 730 tests in a year (2 a day for a year), but that number just seemed lame, so I rounded up. Hahaha.

When telling people about this idea, I found their reactions surprisingly consistent. Most people have advised me to charge for the service and only conduct the minimum number of tests I’d need to “break-even” on the whole thing. Although that’s excellent advice, I think its slightly misguided. I’m not doing this for the typical reasons people start side projects. Here’s why I want to offer a ton of free UX expertise.

Why free?

  • Gives people who can’t afford usability testing the opportunity to run a test (I charge clients $5,000 – $10,000 for a single test.)
  • Exposes new people to the power of usability testing
  • Provides a reason to start a more extensive, user-centered design conversation with people

Why so many tests?

  • 1000 is such an audacious number that it’s notable. And I mean the way Seth Godin defines notable.
  • This scale allows me to fast track my experience level. (I have the secret goal of becoming the world’s most prolific usability tester!)
  • Setting a number gives me something tangible to shoot for and serves as a way to define the project’s success.

If you would like to reserve a spot in the project, please sign up for a FREE usability test today.

I want to know what you think about this project. Feel free to contact me at any time with suggestions, thoughts, encouragement, discouragement. Any feedback would be helpful. Thanks for the support.