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Remote Usability Testing – Why we love it, and why you will too!

Creative Technologist, Innovation Labs

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Straight from the mouth of a User Experience Architect: why conduct remote usability testing?

Testing is the only way to truly know what your users want, and how they are trying to get it.

It’s often thought that UX (User Experience) professionals have all the answers. (Or that they should have all of them.) Sure, years of meticulous, nearly obsessive study and practice in the field of interaction design have left us with a breadth of very valuable insight and experience. Experience that we use to make informed judgment calls on how we think an interactive solution needs to function and feel. But it is a sign of a young and inexperienced interaction designer if they claim to have all the answers.

A rookie mistake for Information Architects, User Experience Designers, or Interaction Designers is to believe they know with certainty how a given group of people will act in an interaction scenario.

A seasoned veteran knows it’s about listening. The experienced professional takes their best shot at solving the needs of their audience, and then carefully observes that audience interacting with their solution. They listen, and watch, and most of all react to the findings they gather from what we call: usability testing.

Traditionally, usability testing was carried out in person. It was expensive, and time consuming and worth every penny. But in an ever increasingly fast paced market, laden with regulatory hurdles, we recognize even more that it’s important to be efficient. Recent advancements in remote testing abilities have allowed us to continue to offer the speed and value we pride ourselves on having, while still gathering that critical feedback we need in order to ensure we go the last mile for our client’s audiences. Using widely available screen sharing and video conferencing tools such as Skype, Google Hangouts, or GoToMeeting, we’re able to connect with a wide variety of user types across unlimited distances.

Successful and insightful remote usability testing begins as a collaborative effort between our team and the brand stakeholders to devise a testing structure. We sift deeply through real analytics data and find areas of opportunity for improvement in the shipped product or experience. Examples of such opportunities are: Do we have an unusually high bounce rate on certain pages of a website? Is uptake slow on a rich interactive tool that we rely on to drive scripts? Are fewer users from a certain target demographic visiting a website? The data reveals any inconsistencies in the experience, and informs a testing structure that will enable us to gather tangible insights into the cause, and thus solution to these inconsistencies.

Once a test structure is agreed upon, a testing protocol is created. This protocol includes test questions or tasks that we wish the users to perform, as well as some instructions as to how to participate in the remotely facilitated test using the appropriate tools.

Tests are then performed by an existing pool of third party usability testers through any number of available services. Or in the case where the audience is very specific, recruitment of a highly specialized audience takes place. The pool of users is then remotely recorded, and a video of them moving through a website, or application is created.

Remote testing allows us to get honest, and dramatically valuable feedback with terrific immediacy. Some available services boast a video output in an average of one hour after a test is submitted. Video of real people using a mobile or desktop website can be turned around in less than a day, giving us a clear roadmap for increasing ROI on an existing product or service.

User Experience Architects at Klick are tuned in to the needs of our clients and their audiences. Our team is made up of entirely senior talent, and as such has the wisdom and empathy needed to create truly insightful experiences. We yearn for direct feedback and insights to help inform our intuitions. We pride ourselves at making the best products in the business, and at being awesome at reacting to opportunities to make them even better.

If you’re looking to improve a current product or service, or wish to increase your chances of perfection on launch, consider adding Remote Usability Testing to your timeline. In the long run, you’ll save time and money, all while delivering an experience that’s curated to the unique needs of your audience!

More About the Author

PJ Stephen

PJ is a relentless tech-optimist, futurist and design thinker. Driven to create memorable and emotionally resonant experiences that surprise and delight. To liberate people by removing barriers between their goals & the technologies they employ to achieve them. Obsessed about Med-Tech and imbuing humanity into interaction and product design. Especially when it comes to technologies people are forced to employ in their moments of need or distress. He uses his passions for the latest technology to help our clients amplify their voices with the cutting edge of digital technology.

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