Enter Test Pilot. It’s a still-in-concept platform for a new user-testing program for Mozilla that aims to build a 1% representative sample of the Firefox user base for soliciting wide participation and structured feedback for interface and product experiments.
Raskin notes that the project was initially intended to provide feedback for Mozilla’s own products — Firefox, the Thunderbird e-mail client and add-ons like Weave and Ubiquity — with a 1% sample of active users. That’s a huge sample size for usability testing, so the distributed model makes sense.
It’s also this level of scalability that makes Test Pilot special. Not only will the collected data be made open to the public, but the testing platform will as well. Any research institution that needs usability data can draft a request to query the hive mind of worldwide Firefox users [emphasis added]. Tests can be conducted in a matter of hours with virtually no overhead — a dream compared to the hours and days spend recruiting, screening and testing participants in traditional usability studies.
This sound like a great idea but I wish this was a downloadable framework to allow me to collect this data on my own, local website with my own participants for experimental purposes (without having to get another level of approval). Whenever I do a web study, I have to get a programmer to create a tool that collects data (e.g., location of clicks, times).