Our move to a virtual existence during these interesting times has revealed a number of unexpected things.
Technology makes it easy
Being a digital agency, we are no strangers to interesting technology. What has surprised us about the transition to being a virtual organisation is how easy it has been thanks to the many technological solutions available.
Video conferencing (Zoom), screen sharing and live chat have ensured clients are as involved in the research process as ever. Live streaming of testing sessions to their homes and video debriefs between and after the testing ensures the same high-quality insights are gathered and actions discussed.
The good thing about this? Work on important digital developments need not stand still as we have the technology we need to keep it going.
It's more like real life
The second interesting revelation is the unexpected additional insight we can glean from remote testing. By asking users to participate from the comfort of their own homes, we are seeing them in their natural environment, with all the distractions and background details that we lose in a lab environment.
Just this week, while testing a large government agency website, one tester spent the duration of the session simultaneously answering questions from colleagues while another had to get up mid-way through to tend to a needy dog!
What is clear is that remote testing offers a much more realistic view of how users interact with websites and digital products. In the real world, your website will not have a user’s undivided attention. Kids will be nagging them, phones will be ringing and deliveries will need to be taken.
As a result of these distractions, we highlighted a number of additional issues with web page content and design that may not have been surfaced if the tester had been totally focused on the site, as they are in the research lab.
We can carry on
Making UX testing remote ensures we can all carry on in these challenging times. Testers are still very much reachable, in fact it offers many a great break from periods of quarantine, research is still watchable and reports are still writable.
Research outcomes will still be important and offering a good user experience should still be an organisational priority.
The COVID-19 pandemic will pass and at some point normality will reinsert itself. What will be interesting is seeing what shape this new norm will take. We predict it will be a much more virtual one in our line of work.
As this situation is proving to us, remote UX research works. And it works well.
Read more: What is UX?