Remote User Research

When remote study work

  • Flexibility. The remote method allows us to connect with your customers anywhere in the world, give us greater user diversity and also can be quicker to set up.
  • Environment. User interviews are conducted in the participant’s usual working environment with the hardware and software they use on a day-to-day basis or while they are on the go.

When remote study doesn’t work

  • Info security. When you want to keep control over confidential test materials
  • Inability to use screen sharing. Some studies may require you to talk to users who don’t have reliable high-speed internet connections
  • Face. The importance of seeing the user’s body or face, or track eye movements

If you are a visual thinker like me you may like my Hand Drawn Design Tips — weekly 1 min read newsletter on product design.

Moderated vs automated research

Moderated

Automated

  • what % of users can successfully log in?
  • how long does it take for users to find a product?

How to design a remote user study

  1. What. You need to decide what you want to learn. Before starting the study, everyone on the team should agree on the questions you plan to ask and the assumptions you plan to test.
  2. Who. You’ll need to carefully recruit people based on your goals: existing customers, prospective customers, or representative customers. I really like a collaborative approach here when you. with your team, identify goals for the study, and list the characteristics of the people you want to interview and people you want to exclude from your study. Then figure out precise criteria you can use to identify those people and write questions to screen them.
  3. How. Determine the best research methodology for a particular study that will allow you to reach your goals and write an interview guide or that keeps you on track during the interviews.

Recruiting for web or mobile study

Live recruiting

Other channels for recruiting

Incentive

Tools for remote UX studies

Moderated. Screen sharing & recording

  • Skype — you can observe the face of the participant and the screen.
  • Google Hangout —you can observe either screen or face.
  • GoToMeeting ($49/month) —you can observe face and the screen and also it can give keyboard and mouse control to the participant.
  • TeamViewer — sharing your screen with the participants and allowing them to play with the prototype.

Automated. Usability study

  • do users have difficulty performing the task?
  • how many people abandon the task and where?
  • what is the most common path users take through the interface to complete a task?
  • where do users go to perform the task and where do they expect to go?

Moderated or automated mobile studies

Observers

Making notes

  • post it notes in three colors;
  • markers;

Combine everyone’s insights

Remote collaboration

If you are a visual thinker like me you may like my Hand Drawn Design Tips — weekly 1 min read newsletter on product design.

Summary

  1. Choose a research method based on what you want to find out
  2. Select the tool or service that best supports your research goals.
  3. Create and post a recruiting screener and confirm valid participants.
  4. Design a set of tasks or write an interview guide.
  5. Conduct research session and pay out the incentives (don’t forget to include your team).
  6. Summarize findings together with your team.

If you are a visual thinker like me you may like my Hand Drawn Design Tips — weekly 1 min read newsletter on product design.

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UX Designer at Google Health, board member IxDA San Francisco. I’m curious to understand people and I’m driven to build great products for them. Love sketching!

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