What is remote usability testing?

Remote usability testing is similar to conventional usability testing except that participants don't come to a lab — instead, the participant carries out the test from his or her home or place of work. We ask participants to carry out tasks with the web site and observe their behaviour using screen sharing technology. To keep up a good flow of comments, we question participants by telephone as they carry out the tasks. If you're interested in this service, you might also be interested in remote, unmoderated usability testing (benchmark usability testing).

“Userfocus achieved excellent results, providing an extremely through and disciplined review of the Western Union UK web site that has enabled us to make significant improvements to the online user experience.”
– Richard Harris, Director of Online Marketing, Western Union.

Why do remote usability testing?

Remote usability testing is a great solution if:

  • You want to test a web site or intranet with participants in diverse geographical areas.
  • Participants can't or won't come to a lab.
  • You need a more "ethnographic" element to your testing.
  • You need to do usability testing on a budget (tests are typically 30% cheaper than lab-based studies).
  • Several people from your organisation want to observe the tests but each can spare only 1-2 hours.

When should I do remote usability testing?

Remote usability testing works best with a live web site or a stable electronic prototype that can be sent to a participant ahead of the test.

Our approach to remote usability testing

We carry out moderated (facilitated) remote usability testing. With this technique, we ask participants to attend a meeting using an online service that allows us to view the participant’s computer screen. For audio, we simply call the participant on his or her mobile or land line.

We record the sessions using a software-based usability tool called Morae. While participants perform tasks with your web site, Morae runs in the background to capture what happens on screen. This tool allows us to make pixel-perfect recordings of the participant’s screen and annotate user actions.

Observers from your company can view the sessions on their local computer in real time or we can create a more concise highlights video of the critical user issues and present this to the development team.

What do I get?

You'll get digital videos of every test session along with a usability test report with practical design suggestions to show you how to fix problems from the usability test. We optimise the format of our usability test report for the people who will be fixing problems, using written reports, presentations to key stakeholders, videos of usability test participants as well as usability test web reports for your intranet.

Why Userfocus?

Our consultants have a track record of success on similar projects, having worked with clients such as Whirlpool, Kodak and eBay to help them collect usability data for a range of consumer products and web sites. We have learnt that usability tests need to be carried out consistently so that the data can be reliably compared with other products and at different points in time. This consistency includes dealing with participants in the same way, knowing when to terminate a task because a participant is confused, knowing how to measure the "start" and "stop" times of a task and using consistent judgement in defining task "success" and "failure". We are able to carry over this learning to your project, which means that you will benefit from our experience.

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