A few years ago I launched a website usability testing service called EasyUsability. I haven’t spent a great deal of time on it in the last year or so (day job is keeping me quite busy), but it showed some early promise on getting very targeted feedback on your website, from your exact target market. To get our website testers, we used Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, a workforce on demand solution, with a robust API.
At the time, writing to the API was very pretty painful, a job that took us weeks to get right, and is still buggy in certain cases.
Fast forward to a week ago, and I am happy to report integrating Rails apps with Mechanical Turk is now much easier. I am playing around with a website that offers accent training, which will use mechanical turk workers to help improve peoples’ accents. Upon doing some searches for Ruby on Rails/Mechanical Turk gems, I ran across RTurk and Turkee. These gems make integrating Mechanical Turk into your rails app a one day exercise, vs. a multi-week exercise. Great stuff.
One tip – be SURE to have RTurk installed and configured before trying to install and generate the Turkee stuff.