Remote Moderated Usability Tests: How and Why to Do Them

Remote moderated usability testing combines the advantages of both in-person and remote unmoderated methods: it can deliver high-quality findings, but is convenient and inexpensive.

Study Planning

1.Choose a tool for communicating with the participant.

Choose a screen- and audio-sharing tool that will be easy to access and install for testers, but also for observers and facilitator.

You don’t have to use the same tool for all test participants. When you choose your tool, pay special attention to the installation requirements. Figure out those details early, as they may play a role in your recruitment process.

2.Plan how to administer the tasks.

Administering tasks is a bit more complicated with remote moderated tests, and it will likely depend on the tool you’re using. The ideal way to deliver tasks is one at a time, and by asking participants to read the task out loud themselves. In addition, you want participants to have the instructions easily accessible as they are doing the task, to be able to refer to it in case they forget them.

3.If possible, schedule technology-practice sessions.

For each participant, try to schedule a 15-minute online meeting the day before her session. Also invite one or two practice observers.

This is the time to get participants to set up the technology needed for the test. Have them install any necessary applications, and work through any hiccups with screen sharing, audio, and reaching websites.

If practice sessions are not possible due to scheduling constraints, make sure you leave some extra time for setup during the actual session.

On the Day of Testing

4.Send out reminders.

As with any type of testing, send reminder emails to participants and observers, either the night before or the morning of testing.For participants, remind them when their session begins, and of anything they need to bring or do during the session. For observers,Remind them of the testing schedule,Tell them any rules for observing,Give them tips for observing the study.

During Each Session

5.Invite the team to join the session.

The exact time when observers should join the session varies depending on:

  • the remote-software tool
  • whether the technology-practice session with the user was successful
  • your relationship with the observers

Joining early, a few minutes before the session starts, has the benefit of being least disruptive to the participant, especially if the remote tool beeps whenever a new person has joined the meeting. But the disadvantage is that it may potentially waste observers’ time and diminish their engagement.

If the latter is a concern, it’s ok to have observers join the session once all the logistics have been cleared (usually, a few minutes after the scheduled start time). Alternatively, you may be able to keep observers busy during the down time by asking them to discuss the previous session’s findings or review the observer tips and think about specific issues.

6.Start the session with the participant.

Once your participant has joined the meeting at the agreed time, run through some variation of the following script:

  • Hi [name], thanks for joining.
  • I am [XXX]; I work for company [YYY]
  • Before we begin, is [name] the correct way to pronounce your name?
  • OK, thanks.
  • I have some colleagues here with me. They’ll just be quietly observing the session, looking for ways we can improve the [site/app].
  • Is it ok if we begin recording?

7.End the session

  • Thank participants for their help.
  • Stop and save the recording.
  • Check in with your observers to discuss the major observations for that session, and any changes to tasks or procedure you’d like to make going forward.

Give Remote Moderated Testing a Try

Remote unmoderated testing has the benefit or being fast, inexpensive, and easy. It can get some great insights, and should be part of every UX researcher’s toolbox.

However, remote moderated testing can give you significantly more useful, interesting, detailed findings than you’ll get from remote unmoderated tests. It takes a bit more coordination, but the small amount of extra effort is well worth the beneficial impact this methodology will have on your research.

Via: NN Group