Guerrilla user testing in central London

Saturday, 31 May 2008
by mattb
filed under Design and Tips and Tricks
Comments: 25

Our new baby,, has been out of the office incubator for about a week now, and as we feed and water her, we’re keeping a careful eye on how she’s been getting on in the subscriber enclosure before we release her into the wild.

First up, MASSIVE thanks and ‘nuff respect (as the kids say here in London town) to everyone for their feedback, suggestions and ideas so far.

We’re always experimenting with loads of ways to help make the experience more and more awesome: in-page feedback and commenting, the Beta Group, Get Satisfaction, chatting to our mums, impassioned debate over ping pong or in the ball pool; the list goes on. One of the most fun ways, though, is getting out there on the street, face-to-face with people, chatting and finding out how we can make stuff better. So, yesterday, I strode into central London with a laptop, some screengrab software and the promise of free coffee and cake.

Grabbing a seat at the nearest café with wifi, I arranged to meet a few people in the area (long-time users who’ve been with us for years; new users still discovering what we do; friends and relatives; random people off the street; anyone with a spare twenty minutes, really) to show them and watch them having a play with it. Loose, informal user testing — or, to use its technical term, ‘chatting to and watching people try out our new ideas over some free coffee and cake’ — is fascinating, great fun to do, and, combined with our other feedback-recording methods, as I believe Mr. Matthew Ogle, Esq. will discuss, reveals fantastically rich layers of information that really help us improve the experience.

Right now, back at HQ, we’re working flat out (though, at the time of writing, it is Friday, so we’ll be having a few down the Arthur too), mashing all this feedback and observation together to help us tweak, polish and rethink our ideas and plans as we move forward to a public release of as soon as possible.

Once again, thanks, and big up to everyone for the feedback so far. We’re listening to everything, and working directly with your help, so keep keep keep it coming.

PS fidothe, alexmuller, molluskii, camilondon, brooner, and clacaby – pleasure to chat to you today.


  1. Kimiko
    31 May, 01:25

    Can you give us guinea pigs some feedback on what you will be changing/updating in the new

    Kimiko – 31 May, 01:25
  2. Taufig
    31 May, 01:31

    some pictures for all the non-subscribers would be nice! :-)

    Taufig – 31 May, 01:31
  3. dersteppenwolf
    31 May, 03:04

    Taufig…some pics in my blog :P

    dersteppenwolf – 31 May, 03:04
  4. skazhy
    31 May, 16:10

    hey, where can i get those pins?

    skazhy – 31 May, 16:10
  5. jonty
    31 May, 19:47

    @skazhy: By coming to a event, or bribing a staff member :)

    jonty – 31 May, 19:47
  6. andrea25
    31 May, 23:04

    I don’t know why, but I have the impression that you guys won’t change the awful facebooky new look, even if most of the subscribers don’t like it at all.

    can you give us feedback on feedback? :-)

    andrea25 – 31 May, 23:04
  7. ArkadySWH
    1 June, 14:53

    how soon can the non subscribring public get a chance to use it in the wild?

    ArkadySWH – 1 June, 14:53
  8. Matt Brown
    1 June, 18:27

    @ArkadySWH – as soon as possible. She’s growing stronger every day. Watch this space :)

    @andrea25 – again, we’re still in beta, so rest assured we are listening and acting upon every bit of feedback we get.

    Matt Brown – 1 June, 18:27
  9. andrea25
    2 June, 21:29

    thanks so much, matt.

    andrea25 – 2 June, 21:29
  10. Taufig
    2 June, 22:08

    more pics!!!! :-)

    Taufig – 2 June, 22:08
  11. Nick
    2 June, 23:34

    Guess you could describe me as a casual user & non-subscriber…

    Of course the feeling will fade, but right now, while I can compare screenshots with the current UI… Fu-u-gly. Were you really getting complaints about the old look enough to change it so drastically?

    As someone said, it reminds of Facebook, possibly the ugliest website in existence.

    Nick – 2 June, 23:34
  12. Somaferien
    3 June, 14:29

    I think the facebook like design is way better than the current one, clean and simple, how it’s supposed to be.

    Somaferien – 3 June, 14:29
  13. Stuart
    3 June, 21:30

    There may be no “current” major complaints about the current design, but oh did the complaints about the current version fly when IT was in/came out of beta.

    Happens every time with the visuals of the site…

    Stuart – 3 June, 21:30
  14. Roel van der Ven
    4 June, 10:42

    Good stuff guys! I get really excited when I see you guys trying new stuffs to get the experience better & better. Must’ve been fun to observe people playing around like that. Great idea!

    Roel van der Ven – 4 June, 10:42
  15. Matthew Ogle
    4 June, 10:55

    Howdy all, thought I’d chime in with some numbers on the feedback so far.

    After barely two weeks of beta, intrepid users have submitted 2378 individual pieces of feedback and bug reports via our new feedback toolbar that sits at the top of most pages.

    There have also been 1664 posts in the Beta group forums.

    In short: WOW! We’re doing our best to listen to each and every piece of feedback, even if we can’t address each one individually. We’ve also been developing new tools to help make sense of all the stuff we’re hearing, so the most important advice is to keep it coming! We can’t make better without your help.

    Matthew Ogle – 4 June, 10:55
  16. tarusexpert
    5 June, 08:27

    I am confident that provide all the shortcomings at the stage it is impossible to debug.

    tarusexpert – 5 June, 08:27
  17. Andreas
    5 June, 12:30

    “We can’t make better without your help.”

    Ok, i’ll help you:

    Don’t change the current non-beta design!!!

    Current non-beta design + new features = PERFECT!!!


    Andreas – 5 June, 12:30
  18. libel7
    9 June, 18:40

    man the new design is… just terrible…

    libel7 – 9 June, 18:40
  19. Matt Brown
    11 June, 18:20

    Ok, we’re doing some more this Friday 13th (!)

    Check out the latest forum post for details.

    Matt Brown – 11 June, 18:20
  20. Nickoladze
    15 June, 01:39

    I’m going to have to express my EXTREME disappointment with the beta website. I am very sorry, but the design looks like it was made by a blind person.

    Please, I beg you, keep the current design or let the users choose.

    Nickoladze – 15 June, 01:39
  21. Teddy
    16 June, 09:51

    I am completely agree, the new design lose all his charisma. I think you should reconsider a new structure for the present website not a new layout similar to many Web 2.0 services around the network.

    cheers!, I love you, don’t change!

    Teddy – 16 June, 09:51
  22. Candy
    26 June, 08:59

    I agree with Teddy, the new design doesn’t feel like lastfm, it simply looks like any other wordpress or facebook designs. I don’t like that the album art is no longer shown and how the shoutbox is at the bottom of the page, or the feeds on the side, that is so facebook. I suggest you keep your current identity with a few touches here and there on the layout and the new options you have in mind.

    Also make more layout colors for us to choose from. That would be lovely.

    Candy – 26 June, 08:59
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    27 June, 22:55

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    video – 27 June, 22:55
  24. Antonio
    2 July, 22:51

    Thanks so much and please more pics!

    Antonio – 2 July, 22:51
  25. mattgcn
    9 July, 03:51

    Hey, so a lot of my friends have been getting BETA invites. People from different regions, people who registered before and after me and people who are more and some less active than me. All non-subscribers. Is there any method to the madness, any pattern or indication as to whether I’ll ever receive a BETA invite?

    mattgcn – 9 July, 03:51

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