Usability research professionals are increasingly using remote testing to allow their clients to reach a broader base of participants at lower cost. However, it can be tricky and frustrating.
At Niiu, we’ve conducted hundreds of remote usability testing sessions, and have learned a few tricks along the way.
Here are 5 tips for better remote testing:
Tip #1: 80% of success is in the planning
- Create a test script that supports the goals of the test.
- Review the test materials and fix any obvious usability issues before the test – a UX designer with fresh eyes can advise you on this.
- Run through the test script and materials multiple times.
- Know your target audience and allow 1-2 weeks to recruit and screen participants.
- Recruit extra back-up participants as you may have more no-shows when testing is done remotely.
- Send reminders one or two days before the test session is scheduled, to minimize no-shows.
Tip #2: Prepare the participants
- The session invite should clearly communicate time zone and instructions.
- Get waivers and consent forms signed ahead of time so you don’t lose valuable testing time to logistics.
- Handle incentive payments digitally – bank transfers or gift cards are good options.
Tip #3: Do a tech check with participants in advance
- Ensure participants can access the web conferencing tool, as corporate firewall issues and low bandwidth can complicate this.
- Ensure their audio and in-built camera (if required) are working.
- Have a back-up plan like using a fixed line telephone and/or alternative web conferencing tool.
Tip #4: You gotta know when to fold em’
- If you encounter technical difficulties, move to the backup plan before the participant gets too exasperated and annoyed.
- If problems persist, graciously excuse the participant and pay them for their time.
Tip #5: Practice active listening
- Speak less, listen more – give participants time to think and don’t interrupt. Resist the temptation to chime in during a pause – with network lag expect longer pauses.
- If you didn’t catch what a participant said, have them repeat it; if you didn’t understand what they said, ask them to explain or give an example to help clarify.
In summary, remote testing requires extra effort, patience and listening to really connect with the participant. Be sharp and well rested for a full day of remote user testing, as there are lots of moving parts. And remember that user testing and especially remote testing takes practice to become proficient.
Contact us for more information on how Niiu Digital can help with user research.