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Richard Littauer is a UX designer and full stack developer. He has a side project, The User Is Drunk, in which he tests websites while under the influence.
He recently spoke at our Future of Digital Marketing conference.
I've been asking Richard about the need for drunk user testing and the insights it can bring...
Why test sites when you're drunk? Where did the idea come from?
I was reviewing an open source project for a friend of mine after I had a few drinks, and I realised the quality of the feedback was different.
I was more honest, I was more likely to have issues that someone who was naïve would have, and I was less willing to put up with anything that wasn't clear or easy.
I realised that being drunk is a pretty good proxy for being a normal user who isn't interested in your site too much; and that I could sell this service.
Of course, that all became clear after the fact - at the time, it was more like "Huh, this is pretty [hic] fun. Also, change this part of your site, it sucks."
How drunk do you get when you test sites?
I get more than buzzed. I'm a honest person. Over time, it took a lot more effort to get there - at first, a couple of beers and I'd be good to go.
By the end of the main amount of reviews, my tolerance went way up, and making videos became harder. Luckily, I was in South East Asia at the time, so alcohol was cheap.
Given that you're already a UX expert, would your insights differ from the 'average' drunk user?
They certainly do. It's not really about the user - it's more about the fact that I know what I'm talking about to a certain extent, so I'm more able to know while drunk what is happening and why I'm getting a site wrong.
The service could be called 'Get brutally honest UX feedback', instead of 'get a drunk user experience.' It might be more accurate.
What are the most common problems you encounter when testing sites?
Text. I hate reading text. I suspect most other people do. When drunk, I don't even bother.
Another common issue is people tend to not know what their call to action is, or how to best serve that to the user.
Also, most people don't seem to do extensive testing of their site after building it; I've found a lot of bugs.
What kinds of features make it harder to use sites when drunk?
Well, foreign language sites are pretty hard... But otherwise, things like carousels are horrible for drunk people. I don't care, so I won't wait or press through.
Videos are annoying, too - they take a lot of patience and interrupt whatever I was doing.
Which sites offer the best experience for drunk users?
It depends on what you mean; some sites were amazing for drunk users. Meh.com seems to have been custom made for people to buy stupid stuff while drunk.
I had to review a dutch Hotel website - that was not a good site for a drunk user. But there are tradeoffs.
Given that Marijuana is now legal in several US states, is there a case for stoned user testing?
Sure. I don't smoke, though, but I'm sure someone else is gonna do this at some point.
A word of warning: focusing is very hard, while drunk. I have no idea what it would be like when stoned.