Choosing the Right Tool for Remote User Testing

by on 07/01/14 at 11:21 am

There are many challenges to traditional user testing. You have to recruit users in your local area, bring them to a testing lab and moderate them throughout the test. Traditional user testing limits the pool of users you can choose from, takes a lot of money to set up, and eats up your precious time. But remote user testing can save you from this complicated mess.

Advantages of Remote User Testing

Remote user testing is where you test users doing tasks on your website or app from the comfort of their residence or office. Users can live in different states, countries and time zones yet still give you the feedback you need to improve your design.

This type of testing gives you a bigger pool of users to choose from. You’re not limited to recruiting users who live in your local area. Not only that, but with remote user testing you don’t need any expensive equipment or a testing lab.

The biggest benefit of remote user testing is that you don’t have to moderate users throughout the testing. Users can do the study on their own, record their session and send you their results after they’re done.

Tips for Choosing a Remote User Testing Tool

There are many remote user testing tools, but picking the right one is difficult. There are ones that allow you to ask the user a set of questions after they complete their task, but that won’t give you quality data.

Qualitative user testing involves monitoring users while they interact with the user interface. This gives you more insight into what users are feeling and thinking during the task. Here are some tips for choosing the right tool to conduct qualitative user testing.

1. Self-Recruit or User Panel

It’s important to recruit users who match the criteria for your target audience so that your data is reliable. To do this, screen users by asking them a series of questions. Select those that meet your criteria to take part in your testing.

Some tools supply a panel of users for you, while others allow you to distribute the test to your own pool of users. If you can’t self-recruit, choose a tool that provides you their user panel. An existing user panel works well if you have a broad target audience. But if you have a narrow target audience, you may want to self-recruit so that you meet the demographics of your user.

2. Recording Audio and Display

Sometimes you’ll get misleading comments if you ask users what they thought about their task. That’s why watching their behavior will give you better insight into what works. A recorded session of the user’s audio and display screen is necessary so that you can look at their behavior.

It’s important to have audio with your screen recordings so that you can analyze what the user says when they think aloud. Always tell users to use the think aloud protocol during testing so that you can understand why they’re doing what they’re doing on the user interface.

3. Testing desktop and mobile prototypes

Remote user testing is not just for desktop websites. The tool you choose should allow you to test mobile and tablet prototypes as well. The setup for testing on mobile devices varies, so you must look at the mobile feature specifications for each tool.

4. Writing your own tasks

Your tool should allow you to write your own tasks in as much detail as possible. This is because users are doing the test on their own time and cannot ask you any questions. The user can’t follow your instructions if it’s not clear what you’re asking them to do. Users should know when to start and stop the task.

Find out whether the tool you choose also allows you to control the session time. Controlling the session time allows you to divide a different amount of time for any simple and complex tasks you may have.

5. Getting the test results

A testing session with five users may take up to an entire day. The tool you choose should give you the test results on the same day it’s completed. Getting the results quicker means that you can make changes to your design faster.

List of Remote User Testing Tools

Here are some tools that match the criteria mentioned above. The price and functionality of each tool is different, so check them out to find the tool that’s best for you.

Final Thoughts

Remote user testing is a modern-day answer to traditional user testing. It saves you time, money and gives you the qualitative feedback you need to improve your user interface design. The right remote user testing tool will offer everything you need to test users without breaking the bank or your back.


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Rakesh is a content writer working at Techved Consulting. Techved specializes in usability testing, user experience design, ecommerce, mobile and software development.

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