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Remote moderated testing: An alternative for face-to-face user research during COVID-19

The global impact of COVID-19 has impacted the way we live and work – the UX and market research industry is no different. But what can be done to ensure that we can continue to conduct user research to inform our client’s development of products that provide their customers with exceptional experiences? One way of doing that is to encourage remote moderated testing whenever appropriate.
Mar
17
2020

Pros and cons of remote moderated testing

uintent and all other companies of the resight global family are convinced that at a time when travel and face-to-face communication are viewed more as risks than benefits, remote moderated user research can help to continue capturing the necessary research data for your project.

Managing Director Korey Johnson from our US team Bold Insight talks about some of the key points to consider when deciding whether to shift from face-to-face interviews to a remote-first mindset for your research needs during the next couple of months.

Advantages of remote testing

  • Avoid cost and risk associated with travel
  • Typically more cost-effective than f2f research
  • Observe research live via any number of remote-viewing platforms
  • Works well for usability testing of websites and mobile applications
  • Works well for exploratory interviews
  • Can even work well to investigate current practices when paired with digital ethnography
  • Higher sample sizes are easier to achieve due to cost-effectiveness

Disadvantages of remote testing

  • Qualitative data often not as rich
  • Participant engagement and adherence can be reduced
  • Does not work well for simulated-use testing of physical products
  • Professional research participants harder to control for
  • Less efficient in terms of higher no-show rates and data loss due to technical issues

Considerations for conducting remote sessions

  • Plan for more sessions than you need
  • Plan for more time between sessions and fewer sessions per day to allow for technical issues (on your side or the participant’s)
  • Be as diligent about the preparation for remote research as for any research
  • Take advantage of time zones to capture outside working hour participation
  • Unless the remote session is unmoderated, a note-taker should be used just as for an in-person session
“Remote moderated user research can help to continue capturing the necessary research data for your project.”

General considerations for ongoing user research in times of COVID-19

While we are advocating for a remote-first mindset in general given COVID-19, we also work with many physical products and research objectives that don’t lend themselves well to such an approach. Where possible, we are counseling our clients to prioritize research that can be conducted remotely, but in many cases that flexibility just does not exist.

We are committed to supporting our clients even in difficult times. uintent together with all companies of the resight global family will continue to conduct in-person user research with a number of common-sense adjustments:

  • Plan more sessions than needed (higher no-show rates)
  • Even easy recruits can become more difficult (increase compensation and lead time)
  • COVID-19 screening questions for pre-screeners as well as on-site protocols
  • Remote viewing for stakeholders to minimize the need for travel

By making these adjustments, we ensure our research can continue while keeping our team, our clients, and our vendors safe.

THE AUTHOR

Korey Johnson

Korey Johnson Managing Director at Bold Insight – the US team of the Resight Global family. Korey has 15 years of experience in UX and HF research. Korey is a contributing author to industry standards, frequently speaks at conferences, and holds a user authentication patent that he still loves to talk about. Korey has an MS in Human Factors Psychology from the University of Idaho.
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