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Our ‘new normal’ UX-lab – safe F2F user research in times of COVID-19

During the COVID-19 lockdown, we conducted many remote interviews whenever possible, helping our clients to design outstanding experiences for their users even during these difficult times. However, remote testing is not suitable for all products, e.g. physical products. Therefore, we needed to think about measures to resume safe face-to-face user research and usability testing in our UX-lab. We modified our studio to be able to conduct in-person interviews again and came up with a hygiene plan to keep our participants, clients, and colleagues safe.

The ‘new normal’ UX-lab

The end of the lockdown in Germany will come gradually and the ‘new normal’ will begin. In the past weeks, we switched our user research approaches to remote-testing only. However, as this method is not suitable for all products (e.g. physical user interface, high confidentiality, complex test setting, etc.), we needed to define measures that will allow us to conduct lab-based interviews and usability tests again and at the same time protect our study participants, clients, and our colleagues. We asked more than 600 study participants in Germany which measures would need to be in place for them too feel safe and increase their willingness to participate in a f2f interview. Read more about the results in our blog article How to safely start f2f research again after COVID-19 lockdown.

We implemented the expected basic hygiene measures in a hygiene plan, like washing hands, keeping the minimum distance, and regularly disinfect surfaces. In addition, we set up plexiglas panels at the reception. We also took advantage of our one-way mirror for spatial separation of test person and interviewer. Even though the separation of participants and moderator was of little relevance for potential study participants, we also considered the concerns and needs of our team. As this was an important measure for us, our IT team created a technical setup that makes it possible to separate moderators and participants but keeps them close enough to conduct a ‘new normal’ face-to-face interview through the one-way mirror. For testing with mobile devices, our team came up with an awesome idea – a pass-through drawer. Now, the moderator can prepare prototypes, websites, etc. or solve occurring technical issues on the mobile device and ‘hand it over’ to the participant without having to be in the same room.

ux-lab usability testing covid-19
ux-lab user research covid-19 usability testing
The ‘new normal’ UX lab – spatial seperation of moderator and participant, pass-through draw and entrance reception

But what about global F2F user research?

Are you making plans to resume in-person research or want to conduct an international project but are unsure of what is possible in the different markets?
Our ReSight Global company developed a tracking map to determine what types of research could be done in 22 key global markets with information gathered from our UX partners around the world on a weekly basis to assist colleagues with global research project planning. In addition, XplusX in China resumed in-person user research in early April.

As you can see, the whole UX Community are doing our best to enable face-to-face user research again in these times. Feel free to share your experiences with us or let us talk about the options for your upcoming project!


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