Remote User Testing - 4 minutes read
What is Remote User Testing?
It stands distinct from moderated user testing, the other most common form of testing, in which participants complete their tests under supervision. It goes without saying that both offer a range of pros and cons, but it feels like there has been a shift in the user testing plates in recent years: the shift is very much towards Remote User Testing.
In a nutshell, Remote User testing is a form of user testing in which the participants complete tests remotely – i.e. from their home, place of work, or similar – and often using screen recording software.
It offers more agility for everyone, whether it’s a user testing agency, a corporate client seeking insightful feedback on their website or application or a stay at home mum who’s looking for a way to earn some money.
If there has been a shift as we suspect, a mix of several factors – the lower financial and time investments necessary, the heightened convenience for both companies and participants, and the removal of geographic and other demographic factors – has likely been behind this shift in user testing services.
You may have heard a slightly different name being used for it: Remote User Experience Testing. And it makes sense – the main aim of the testing, whether remote or moderated, is to get a handle on the user’s experience of the product.
User experience includes several interlinked areas, but essentially it is the user’s overall experience when using your product, website, app, etc.. A good user experience will be easy and usually quick from start to finish. The design should be clear, straightforward and intuitive, so less technologically literate users can do what they need to. A lot of the time – the best design isn’t even noticed.
Remote user testing or Remote User Experience testing, is usability testing conducted outside of a traditional research lab environment and without a moderator present.
Test participants use screen recording software to record themselves completing a user test from their own devices at homes or at work. Participants often complete an additional post-test survey containing written feedback and rating scale questions. The videos and surveys are then sent to the test administrator who can analyse participant behaviour, transcribe comments, map user flows, and record errors.
Completing tests on their own phones or computers and from an environment that they’re comfortable in lends a more natural quality to the final videos. Remote user testing – or online usabiltiy testing – is also much cheaper and can be completed faster and at a far larger scale than moderated user testing. Additionally, the ability to test across state and international boundaries opens up limitless demographic possibilities.
What is the purpose of Remote User Testing?
The ultimate purpose of Remote User Testing or Remote User Experience Testing is to increase your conversion rates, lower your bounce rates, and give your sales a boost. It achieves this by revealing ways in which you can enhance the user experience your product offers. Ways in which you can keep the customer at the heart of your design and your product. And, done properly, Remote UX Testing can shine a light on ways to streamline and optimise your key customer journeys.
This could be anything from an off-putting visual design and confusing layout, to an overly long registration process or over-complicated checkout. Or from an absence of bold Call To Actions, to a product or message that doesn’t make the impact you need with users. Either way, the customer insights will probably spring a surprise or two.
Remote User Experience Testing can point to ways in which your customers’ user experience can be made more efficient, intuitive and elegant. Ways in which your customer journeys can be smoothed out. All of which will chip in towards keeping your bounce rates low and your conversion rates high – two digital fundamentals for a healthy bottom line.
Of course your bottom line will be a motivating factor in carrying out Remote Testing – a tangible ROI has to be there for you. Here is where your objectives come in. What specifically do you want the testing and feedback to guide you on? Maybe abandoned shopping carts have doubled since you launched your new site. Or maybe your app downloads aren’t getting close to your targets.
Think long and carefully about what you want to get out of the Remote UX Testing. Then set clear objectives and create your test plans and processes to dovetail with them.
Remote User Testing Software
At this stage we should walk you through the ins and outs of getting your test up and running. Let’s start with the software. The Remote User Testing Software you choose for your project will hinge on two things: your product (what it is and what software it runs on), and what you want to get out of your testing.
If you’re testing an app, it may have been designed with InVision, which is super useful as you can simply share it with users, get them to run through the test plan, and then analyse the videos.
If you’re testing a live site, the only real Remote User Testing Software your testers will need is a screen recorder. Heaps of them are available for free online, but a lot of our testers like screencast-o-matic.
Otherwise, the folks at TechRadar have recommended OBS Studio, FlashBack Express and Apowersoft as their top 3. Users of Windows 10 can even take advantage of the in built screen recorder.
Whichever option you decide to run with in your Remote Usability Testing, be sure you have a pre-testing meeting or flexible coordination process to iron out any teething issues. This can also be a great opportunity to address any doubts your testers may have about downloading and using the software.
Aside from remote usability testing software, the hardware testers will need is probably obvious, but still worth mentioning. As well as a laptop, tablet or smartphone that’s going to be able to handle a few tabs and the screen recorder with no lag time, a solid internet connection and reliable microphone (and sometimes speakers) are essentials.
So that takes us to the end of your overview of the world of Remote Usability Testing. Our UX Team at TestMate has worked on fully bespoke UX projects for clients from basement start-ups to international giants. To see where we can help your product, give us a call to setup a free 30 minute consultation with one of our directors to talk about our user testing services.