Pros and Cons of Remote Usability Testing
If you want to gauge how easy it is for a user to use a website from a different geographical location, remote usability testing is a solution for you. A usability testing company implements traditional usability testing that allows researchers and users to gather in one place and test the website whereas, with remote usability testing, users and researchers can test the website without having to be in the same location.
Remote user testing can be moderated or unmoderated
Remote user testing is a favorite method for all usability testing companies, in which the users test the website from a different location and the researcher moderates the test by watching and interacting with the test participant using a telephone connection and internet sharing tools.
A different approach to remote usability testing is conducting unmoderated tests in which the test participants are provided with a set of tasks to complete on-screen whilst they progress through the session.
Upon completion of the test, the results are generated for the researcher to review. This type of test is harder to control and therefore, offer questionable value. For this article, we’ll keep our focus on the moderated method.
Moderated usability testing is done to gain insights into what and how users face problems when completing typical tasks with a website.
The major advantage of remote usability testing is that it provides a realistic user environment as opposed to the less natural environments often used for traditional user testing.
For remote testing, the participants can also be recruited when they enter the website. Live recruiting method helps researchers catch people as they enter the site, ask them to share their screens, and watch how they complete their journey.
This is also a major difference from traditional lab-based usability testing which places participants in an environment unfamiliar to them and asks them to perform predefined tasks.
Following are some of the key advantages offered by moderated remote usability testing:
- Saves cost and time of hiring a professional usability lab
- Recruitment is easy as participants do not have to travel to the research facility
- Tests are conducted in natural environments, offering key insights into true behavior
- A higher number of participants can be tested per day as compared to lab-based testing
- Participants from various geographical regions can test from a single location
- During live recruiting, researchers can observe true user behavior as they track the progress of users completing the tasks they would naturally do.
There are cons to everything.
- The inability to control the environment can lead to interruptions and distractions at the participant’s end i.e. children, doorbells, pets, etc.
- Researchers are unable to observe the body language or facial expressions of the participants and therefore, can’t have extra insights into user behavior which they usually have in face-to-face research
- Limiting the interaction to the phone can lead to researchers and participants struggling to gain rapport which can affect the session quality
- Third-party screen-sharing tools often require a strong broadband connection and some sort of download before starting the test session
Moderated remote usability testing allows researchers to observe true user behavior across various geographical locations while also offering them time and cost savings. However, it’s an unreliable method in terms of technology and control over the test.
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