UIEtips: Pros and Cons of Remote Usability Testing

Jared Spool

July 15th, 2010

30 years ago, I conducted my first usability study. The lab we had— the first ever built for this purpose— was the size of a janitor’s closet (because it was a converted janitor’s closet) and was packed with more than $20,000 of video equipment (because that’s what a simple camera and editing system cost then). We sat in this tiny room, looking through the one-way mirror, learning how to make technology much, much better. In those days, being tethered to the usability lab was all we knew.

Today, we have many more options. Portable, inexpensive equipment and software renders formal laboratories obsolete. And the newest of options on the horizon, the remote usability test, is changing the way we think of user research.

In today’s UIEtips, Nate Bolt explores the pros and cons of remote usability testing. He shares his experiences from the projects of his company, Bolt | Peters, where they’ve conducted hundreds of remote studies. I think you’ll find his insights very interesting.

Read the article, Pros and Cons of Remote Usability Testing.

On Thursday, July 15, Nate is delivering an even more detailed look at remote usability testing in his UIE Virtual Seminar. You’ll learn which vendors have the best tools and how to avoid some of the common pitfalls others have experienced. There’s still a few seats left.

Have you added remote usability tests to your toolkit? What’s been your experience with them? We’d love to hear your thoughts below.

2 Responses to “UIEtips: Pros and Cons of Remote Usability Testing”

  1. UIEtips: Pros and Cons of Remote Usability Testing » UIE Brain Sparks | usability Says:

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  2. Zephyr Says:

    I can see how motivation makes a big difference in how users perform, but I always find myself immediately closing any survey popups that get between me and what I came to do on the site. So while you may notice potential participants at high-motivation moments, I wonder what your experience has been with actually engaging with them at that time, before they’ve accomplished what they came to do. (I’m sure people would be excited about getting live support if they do run into trouble, but that of course doesn’t go well with user testing.)

    I’m also curious how you handle the actual observation or feedback gathering part. The Ethnio website mentions a tiny footprint for file size of the survey, but what’s required for observation? If users are required to install software and share their screen and interaction live this will surely have more of an impact than survey file size (and go against the democratization of testing)?

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