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12 November
7 min read

Remote user testing: The best way to evaluate digital products?

How to get valuable feedback and refine your product
by Elizabeth KukushevaMarketing Manager at Lucky Duck
man and woman remote user testers

Intro to user testing

User testing is a fundamental part of the design thinking process and a great way to evaluate your digital product.

Seeing the product through the eyes of your clients can help you detect issues and flaws, understand your users better, and make the changes your clients need before introducing the product to a larger audience.

Nowadays, a lot of companies prefer (or have to) run remote usability tests. There are different techniques, platforms and tools that can help you achieve great results remotely. In this article, we will try to cover all you need to know about remote user testing, but let’s start with the basics.

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What’s the definition of user testing

User testing is a process used for evaluation. You invite end users to interact with your digital product and ask them to share feedback. You aim to get honest answers to vital questions crucial to your business. The remote user tests have the same purpose, but the user can interact with your product from home.

There is a slight difference between the terms ‘user testing’ and ‘usability testing’. In this article we talk more about the second term which is a bit more specific.

There are also some other methods to evaluate your product, such as A/B testing, user surveys and focus groups, but we will cover that in another article.

Usability Testing Types

Moderated

You surely guessed by the name, that there’s a moderator who presents the product and a user who tests it. The moderator introduces simple tasks and asks questions in order to get a full picture of how the user is experiencing the product. These sessions are often monitored by other team members or recorded and examined afterward.

Unmoderated

During unmoderated user tests there’s no moderator present and users perform the tasks on their own. The screen of the participant, as well as the mouse movements and the whole process, are recorded. One flaw in this type of moderation is that some clues during the communication with the user are lost. Neither the team members nor the user is able to ask any additional questions. You see the actions of the participant, but don't know the motivation behind them.

Remote

Remote user tests can be very helpful when executed properly. We run those types of tests with the help of an online meeting solution. The concrete tool depends on the product and the goals that we set. These tests can be moderated and unmoderated themselves. Some of the benefits of that approach are that the logistics part is easier to arrange, because you don't have to worry about having a meeting room, and also, users often feel more relaxed when they test the product from the comfort of their own home.

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Step-by-step guide for running remote usability tests

  1. Set a goal. Tests are useful when part of a larger strategy. For example, when we run design sprints, user tests are the final phase of the process. So don't do test just for the sake of it.

  2. Prepare well! Before the session write a list of burning questions, crucial to the success of your product. Treat the user test like a conversation, but make sure you get these questions answered throughout the session.

    Examples:

    Where would you expect to find the contact information if you were looking for it?

    What do you think about that specific page?

  3. Find the right people.

    Choose people who would use your product in the real world because their feedback would be the most valuable. In most cases, you will need 3-5 people from your target group. There are different ways to find participants. You can recruit them by using a specific website, on social media, through a research agency, and so on.

  4. Choose a moderator

    Choose a moderator who knows your website or app well and possess exceptional social and communication skills.



Book a meeting

In order to schedule a session with the user we suggest you use a tool like [Calendly or Google Calendar if you are a Google fan. Of course, if you prefer, you could make a simple timetable in a notebook and contact each user directly.

Give yourself more time

Always schedule at least double the time you think you’ll need for the user experience itself. That way you won't rush with the introductions, you will be prepared for any technical problems, and will have time for explaining the next steps.

Write a list of minor questions or things your user might be thinking about during the process. Don’t feel the need to have every user answer these questions, but use it as a guide for you to direct the conversation and get additional insights from your user.

Create a Typeform survey (an alternative is Google Forms) to send to your user after the test. Collect both the data from the form and the moderator's notes at the end of the session.

Write down some simple instructions for your user tester on how to get set-up with your product and how to jump on the video call. Explain the whole user testing process in advance.

Record the test

Recording the session is of great importance. That will help you analyse the process afterward.

Be kind and friendly before, during and after the test. Don't forget to thank them for their time after they finish the test.

Explain that you are not the creator of this product (even if you are, to avoid receiving biased feedback), and tell them the best way they can help you is by providing completely transparent and honest feedback on their perspective. You are testing the product, not the participant and there are no wrong answers.

Ask the participant to think out loud - that will give you even more information.

It's just a conversation. Watch their reactions throughout, but at the same time have a natural conversation. Ask questions based on the lists you have made earlier. Take notes on what your user told you, and any reactions or problems they may have faced during their experience. Don't forget to send the follow-up survey.

Collecting the results
After the session ends, take time to review the recordings, your notes, and the user survey submissions.

Create a presentation going through each user test one-by-one and highlight the key insights, any specific details about the user persona (if running a varied test), and then link to the video recording, your notes, and the user feedback survey.

Book a meeting with the stakeholder on your team to who this user feedback is most relevant. It could be the CEO, Product Manager, or Marketing Manager.

Create a list of suggested actions based on the user testing so you can iterate and solve any of the challenges your user discovered.

Useful tools

These are some of the tools we at Lucky Duck use when doing user tests.

Calendly is easy to use, has a free plan, and also Premium and Pro versions. The app helps you schedule sessions with just a few clicks.

Loom is a great screen recording tool, which also allows you to see the tester and listen to their comments.

Figma can help you send your prototype to the users. They can also leave comments.

Zoom is another tool that can be used for remote user tests especially if you want to ask questions.

Usability tests are a powerful tool that can give you valuable feedback, insights, and ideas. Validate your ideas on different stages of the design and development process and don't be afraid of the remote tests - they are as useful as the traditional ones, if not more.

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