It feels all a bit strange at the moment doesn’t it? All this talk of staying at home, businesses closing and work standing still.
Don’t get me wrong, I was always the first to wish for a snow day at school but now I’m directly involved in running a small business, the thought of work ceasing for a couple of weeks is all a bit scary.
Lucky for us, we work in one of the fortunate industries that doesn’t need to stop thanks to the incredible technology around us.
Just today, what should have been a full day of client-observed usability testing followed by a detailed debrief discussion, turned into a completely virtual affair.
And it was a great success...
"I just wanted to say how fantastically you and the team dealt with our situation, sometimes technology isn’t always on our side but yesterday ran very smoothly and we learnt so much from it."
Conducting remote usability testing
Today we were lucky and all our testers were still happy to come to the office for face-to-face research.
However, when required, it is very easy to turn this part of the process virtual. Remote testing is not a new thing and something we regularly do if testing with hard to reach individuals or across different countries.
If we all have to stay home, this would be no different. Using screen sharing software and webcams, testers are able to test the website as if they were sat right next to you. By facilitating these sessions as usual, we are still able to ask questions and probe at suitable moments to gain those quality insights.
Observing live usability testing remotely
Being required to stay at home may seem like a showstopper when it comes to watching live UX research too. However, with video conferencing, we can live stream the testing straight into your homes.
As you would if observing testing in the proper research lab, you see the website being tested (complete with eyetracking if on a laptop), a head and shoulders shot of the tester and hear the session audio.
Between sessions, there is the opportunity to catch up with the facilitator, feed back on the testing session and adapt the day to get the insights you need.
Even if attending the research lab is not an option, observing research as it happens is an incredibly important part of the usability testing process. Why?
- It enables greater insight into user issues as you can both watch users’ behaviours and hear their attitudes
- Observing testing ‘live’ (i.e. as it happens) can help bring the issues into sharp relief – it is impossible to deny there is an issue when you are watching it happen
- It allows you to shape the testing to ensure you are getting the insights you need by making changes ‘on the hoof’
Discussing usability insights remotely
As important as watching the usability testing is taking the time as a team to discuss what we have just observed. This is because everyone who watched the testing can interpret what they have seen in a different way and come away with conflicting opinions on what the issues are.
By discussing the research and agreeing the issues, you are in the best position possible to decide what can be done about them.
While being in a room together and hashing things out in person may be the best way of doing this, if this is no longer possible, video conferencing calls are an equally good approach.
If possible, keep webcams turned on. Often the problem with multi-way conference calls is not being able to anticipate when people are going to talk. With your videos on, this isn’t a problem and you can still spark a lively discussion that leaves you with plenty of work to get on with. All from the comfort of your own home!