Posted 12/22/2015 12:01:41 PM by RICHARD HARRIS, Executive Editor
We recently sat down with Matt Johnston from Applause to learn more about how their new uTest serves to provide QA and QE professionals world-wide with job seeking tools and networking connections to help advance their careers.
Johnston is Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer at Applause and has more than a decade of marketing experience at companies ranging from early-stage startups to publicly traded enterprises. He leads marketing, community management and organizational strategy efforts at Applause.
ADM: Can you provide a brief history of the uTest community – when was it established, what services it provides to software developers and testers, and how has it grown since it first launched in 2008?
Johnston: uTest was founded as a software testing company in 2007 and formally launched in 2008. We used a crowdsourcing model to provide in-the-wild testing using real-world testers, and paid testers for the value of the bugs, feedback and vulnerabilities they found. This model enabled us to quickly build a community of QA & QE professionals around the world.
As our community grew, we realized that testers were joining for reasons beyond just the opportunity to earn extra money. They were also sharing knowledge in the community forums we had built up and supported with our community management team.
In the following years we evolved beyond just testing apps with the crowd and developed a rich portfolio of app quality tools, services and analytics. Because of this, we rebranded our business-facing business from uTest to Applause in 2014. When we did this, we did not abandon the uTest brand. We’ve built a community of more than 200,000 testers, so when we rebranded as Applause, we kept the uTest brand as well and turned it to serve our testing community.
uTest began offering courses, tool reviews and expanding knowledge sharing in community forums where software testers and developers the world over could find information on topics of interest to them. People were still joining uTest in the hopes of doing paid work for the parent company (now Applause), but increasingly they were there to network and discuss best practices and learn from fellow testers.
This month, we moved to give our uTest community members – and QA and QE pros around the world – the type of professional community they deserve. We’ve just launched the new uTest as a professional network, where novice and veteran testers alike can receive free training, create and consume tailored content, find paid testing projects, and connect with peers. uTest community members are eligible to be invited to paid testing cycles for Applause and its clients, such as Google, Netflix, Amazon, BMW and Runkeeper.
But the new uTest was launched with a focus on providing testers – long the underserved sector of technology professionals – a place to build their professional skills and brand, while learning the skills to both improve their standing at their current job and find their next one.
ADM: How is the new uTest similar to current job networking sites already out there, and/or how is it different?
Johnston: Just like with any top professional networking site, the new uTest serves as a place for testers to reach their career goals by providing them with resources to enhance their professional skills. But unlike current sites geared toward all professionals from multiple sectors, uTest is a vertically-focused network geared specifically to testers.
This allows them to engage in more tailored and meaningful ways with others who do the same type of work. In a nutshell, it allows professional testers to expand and share their knowledge with peers in a way that is both good for their career and good for advancing the knowledge base within the testing craft.
ADM: What type of networking features can members expect to find in the new uTest?
Johnston: The new uTest is an investment in the QA and QE community where members can make use of a number of specific features that can enhance their careers, including:
- Paid projects: A listing of paid opportunities from Applause, to which uTest community members can apply.
- Professional reputation: Community members earn "uPoints" and badges through paid work and by creating or consuming content like articles, courses and reviews of testing tools.
- Courses: uTest University provides free educational and coaching resources for testers, with courses about modern topics like testing Android apps, responsive web design, IoT, and test automation.
- Discussion forums: Real-time discussions with peers on topics including career advice, "how-to" advice, tech trends, as well as lighter subjects, such as contests, polls and giveaways.
- Tool reviews: Ratings and reviews of software testing tools to help individuals select the right QA- or QE-related products. This also enables test tool vendors to connect directly with their audience.
- Industry events: An avenue for tools and events companies to promote their events, meetups and webinars. Community members can submit their own, find events of interest, and even keep track of upcoming events by adding them to their calendar.
ADM: Was there a specific need in the market that prompted you to create this professional network for testing professionals? What can they get from uTest that they can’t get from other networking sites, such as LinkedIn?
Johnston: The testing profession is woefully underserved today, and we wanted to create a place where testers can showcase professional accomplishments, expand skill sets and build their professional brands. In short, we want to provide a hub for them to get what they need to ace their current job, or prepare for and find their next job.
But unlike broader networking sites such as LinkedIn, the new uTest offers an experience that is specific to the testing community, which is evident through uTest University courses, reviews on software testing tools, and opportunities to be matched for paid projects, all of which cannot be found on other networking sites.
ADM: How can members be sure prospective employers can find/connect with them through the uTest platform?
Johnston: While the community does not have a board for full-time job opportunities, members can search paid opportunities for Applause on the uTest Software Testing Paid Projects page. Here, they can apply to those which they think are the best match for their skills and interests by completing a full uTest profile.
Members must complete a uTest profile in order to be considered for listed projects. Each tester’s unique profile URL can be shared and include items like their bio, contact information, social profiles, content contributions, and even their performance across testing types.
Broadly speaking, the site showcases testers by letting them build their reputation. This is done through their content, topical interests, shared connections, or even who is attending an event with you. We want to make it easy for community members to connect with who they want – e.g., that tester they met at a conference or thought leaders on topics like wearables, or that person who solved a testing challenge that others are facing right now.
ADM: What do companies need to do in order to make their hiring information available on the uTest network, and how will they be able to connect with QA/QE professionals on the site?
Johnston: We designed the new site experience to allow anyone to contribute content that’s geared toward a tester audience – whether it's testers sharing best practices, tool vendors promoting their upcoming webinar, or companies looking to establish themselves as top employers and list full-time or contract positions.
Similar to what LinkedIn has done on a very broad, general scale, contributing highly valuable content establishes you as an industry leader and helps you to build a following. We've verticalized the professional network to make it easier for companies to get their message in front of the world’s largest community of software testers.
ADM: What type of job listings are currently available, or will become available, to uTest members?
Johnston: Current job listings range from performing functional testing of universal remotes, to iOS app testing with mobile carriers, to in-store pharmacy testing (to name just a few). We also post projects for usability experts, load & performance engineers, and are actively recruiting more mobile automation engineers. New job listings are added several times per day, so there are always fresh paid projects for community members to apply to.
ADM: Have software developers/testers and companies already started signing up for this service?
Johnston: Yes, in addition to our more than 200,000 existing global uTest community members who have full and free access to the new uTest features, we also add more than 5,000 new testers per month. And this growth rate in new sign-ups continues to grow each year.
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