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How to run your user tests remotely?

World of Digits / Explore


The Covid-19 crisis has an ironic consequence for user-centred projects: on one hand, it is impossible to run regular user tests since everyone should stay home. On the other hand, everyone should stay home! Never before, people had so much time to participate in user tests. It is the ideal moment to go remote and ensure your user-centred projects still get that much-needed validation from real users. But how do you recruit participants and moderate user tests from your home?

Recruiting participants in times of quarantine 

Recruiting participants for remote user tests is not that different from recruiting for in-house user tests. Actually, it is often a lot easier! Especially now that people have a lot of free time, participating in a user test may be a welcome distraction from the quarantine routine. It becomes even better when you have the budget to pay them for it: would you refuse € 40 for participating in a 1h session that you can literally do from your couch? Seems a nice deal to me!

But how do you reach out to all these people working from home?

Current clients: if you want to test with current users of your product, you already possess the contact details of potential test participants (in case you are allowed to contact them of course… GDPR is not immun

Online panels: there are several companies out there that recruit participants for your remote user tests on-demand. They take care of everything: from profiling and building a panel to recruitment and incentive payout. Good examples are TestingTime and Leftfield.

Social media: everyone seems to spend the majority of their quarantine days on social media. Instead of posting annoying quarantine challenges, try to promote your user tests!

Moderating user tests online 

Contrary to recruiting participants, moderating remote user tests requires a very different approach than regular in-house tests.

First of all, you have to choose and set up a videoconferencing tool. There are a lot of tools out there on the market, all with their advantages and drawbacks. However, you can never go wrong with Zoom: it is free (with limitations), easy to set up, and participants can join in-browser, so there is no need to download anything. On top of that, they have an app as well, so participants can share their screen while using a mobile app or prototype. Other tools you might consider are Lookback, UserLook, UserZoom, Userfeel or Marvel.

Once you have your technical environment set up, you want to make sure to send clear instructions to the participants. Not everyone is digitally adept, so calling in into a remote user test may be a difficult and stressful experience for some people. Send your participants the call link and detailed steps they have to go through, and give them your telephone number in case they encounter difficulties.

Your company may require test users to sign a non-disclosure document and/or a permission form to record the session. In that case, you may want to send the participants a request to digitally sign this document. A useful tool for this is SignRequest, that allows you to easily send and sign documents without leaving your browser!

Once the user test has started, send your participants the link to the prototype/website/app through the Zoom chat. Ask them to open it and share their screen, so you can follow everything they do like you would in a regular user test. Clearly stress to think out loud, tell the participants which tasks they need to complete and off you go!

You will see that remote user testing works like a charm and can delivers the same results as regular user testing. Interested in a more detailed training or someone that runs remote user tests for you? Do not hesitate to reach us out!

Written by Maxime De Roek


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