User Research in New York

Here at UX24/7, we carry out a large amount of international UX research. Over time, as we work in more countries, we continue to learn more about the differences in culture and coordinating UX projects in new territories.

This has inspired our latest blog series in which our team share their experiences of carrying out user research in various countries around the world.

user research New York

Usability testing in New York – 5 differences to London

Every business wants to break into the American market – and why not? It is still the biggest in the world in monetary terms and offers massive potential to anyone able to penetrate it, even to a limited degree. New York is the focus of a lot of commercial, financial and entrepreneurial activity and a lot of business will gravitate towards the centre, at least initially.

So, if you are targeting the US market, you might well find yourself wanting to user test your product, website or app in the Big Apple. Will it just be a question of transplanting your UK process to the American marketplace? After all, they speak the same language, have similar customs and expectations, approximately equivalent standards of living, product choice and knowledge and so on.  So it shouldn’t be too big a change, should it? Well, yes and no.

We have done usability testing in New York recently and once again experienced some differences to the procedures and conventions in the UK. To be honest, they are not that major and nothing like the cultural differences and potential problems faced when testing in say India or China. Still, we thought it would be useful to share them with you; as we have continually stressed, preparation is all in these situations plus you don’t want unexpected costs jumping out of the woodwork and significantly eating up your budget.

user research new york

Here are five things we learnt that you might find useful if you are planning usability testing in the US.

  1. You might not be surprised to hear that in the US everything is charged for. For example, we often bring our own laptop to a test facility but borrow a mouse, keyboard and monitor. In the UK this is usually done on a complimentary basis but in the US it is charged for per day – so make sure you take all the equipment you need.
  2. Incentives to participants are higher – in the order of $125 vs £40 for the UK. And they are not paid in cash as in the UK but with Visa gifts which means that when you book a facility you have to pay upfront for the incentives rather than take cash with you and hand it over on the day.
  3. Generally recruitment costs are a little higher so you will probably end up paying around 20% more per participant
  4. As this is the USA you can expect everything to be bigger and better. And it actually is. There are significantly more facilities available in New York affording greater choice for researchers and the facilities are, on average, much larger with multiple rooms and big viewing rooms
  5. Catering costs are phenomenally high. This is where a bit of foreknowledge can save you embarrassment or money – or both. For example, if you have provided your client with a budget proposal and they have signed it off and then turn up with 10 additional observers, you could be facing an extra bill of hundreds of dollars (and not a few extra sandwiches and sausage rolls as in the UK). So either establish firm numbers or make your client aware that the budget only includes nominal refreshments and anything additional will be an extra.

Of course there are other things to look out for when running usability testing like different word usages, spellings, technical and brand names – but that is a whole other area for another time.

Leave a comment below sharing your experiences, we would love to hear them.

We have a wealth of experience in testing for UK and international markets. If you would like more information or advice on any website usability issues, why not tap into our extensive knowledge by giving us a call free on +44(0)800 024624 or dropping us an email at

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