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Situation: As a national leader in your field, you understand user experiences may vary based on their roles and functions of using the site or product. For better insight into the needs and pressure points of the site and gather ideas on how to address those concerns, you would like to do some usability testing in California , Texas, and New York but as usual, you have a strict budget and a short time frame to complete a study. What should you do?
In the past, companies have had very few options that would answer these questions and allow them to coordinate a study of this size quickly or frugally, outside of the standard usability test or web analytics study. However in recent years, usability professionals have utilized web conferencing software and a host of communication devices to develop remote usability testing as an alternative to conducting standard “on location” usability tests.
When is remote testing appropriate?
Remote usability testing is a methodology that allows moderators to gather feedback about a website, software product, or wire frame via an online meeting space or web conference forum. Remote usability testing is most beneficial to clients who:
It has been our experience that remote usability testing is currently the most cost efficient alternative to standard usability testing as it allows clients more flexibility in project scheduling, access to geographically dispersed users groups, and is recourse to replace or schedule difficult user profiles. Using the scenario above, this article will compare remote usability to a standard domestic usability study that includes one or all of the factors above. Please see International Testing Volume 46 for remote testing considerations specific to international testing.
What are the advantages of Remote Testing?
Disadvantages of remote testing:
Decision: Remote usability testing, when executed correctly, provides companies a cost-effective and time-efficient alternative to get valid user feedback without the added burden of travelling to multiple locations, renting additional facilities or dealing with recruiting challenges. For these reasons, an increasing number of companies in recent months are opting to conduct remote usability testing in lieu of the standard usability test.
For more information about usability testing and other solutions, please visit http://www.usabilitysciences.com/services.
Adrienne Porter, Usability Analyst