Remote user testing 101


Select the right candidates.  Often business units put forward their sales focused contacts.  These are  rarely the users that we want to talk with.  In early communications with potential participants be very clear about what you want to do, most will be happy to refer a colleague if they are not best placed to help this time.

Define your objectives
It sounds obvious I know but make sure that the stakeholders are clear on what you wish to achieve by doing this particular round of testing.

Create a script that is task orientated based on the user journey with plenty of open ended non leading questions too test the structure and layout of the work. Use this as a guide only, keep your conversations natural.

A decent  target test time is 20 minutes.

On the Day

  • Always introduce yourself and make sure that the time is still convenient for the participant
  • Be nice, and friendly but not to familier
  • Tell them what you are going to ask them to do and broadly why you are doing it
  • Make sure that they know that the session is being recorded, in our case both their actions and their voice.
  • They also need to know that this is NOT a test of their ability, there are no rights and wrongs we are just interested in their opinion, so we can ultimately make their experience better.
  • Explain that we want them to think out load.
  • Ask open ended questions that do not lead into an answer.
  • Use ‘silent encouragement’ allowing them to do the talking.

Plan B

Testing presents it’s own challenges anyway and remote international testing with a technological hurdle is right up there in the fly by the seat of your pants ‘will this work stakes’ so always have a Plan B

I had prepared a shorted test route that still gave us good useful information if the subject was pushed for time or the speed of the technology was proving troublesome.

If the tech failed completely the plan was to gain some other  insight that we could feed back in to the process.

I was also prepared for a complete breakdown, here it’s better to admit defeat,  thank the participant for their time and try to keep them onside for another day.

Always, always, always  follow up with a Thank you.