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  • Writer's pictureJoni Mok

Thoughts on planning remote user testing sessions (Part 1)

Updated: Dec 18, 2022

In this blog, I will talk about ​a) Considerations of planning a remote usability testing session, such as tools and objectives; b) Writing a user testing (research) plan (with a downloadable template at the end of this blog post).

Fig 1. An overview of my usability testing template

I have been working remotely as an interaction designer at a software startup for 3 months now. My main responsibilities are planning and conducting usability testing and user research. I also help with formulating UI specifications for improving the existing app. Before that, I helped the University of Oslo as a research assistant. This was where I gained my research design skills and learned directly from senior researchers. Right now, one of my main activities is to translate research methodologies into industrial practices, for example, UX research and digital product design.

In this blog post, in particular, I would like to focus on designing usability testing (research) plans in a remote setting. Working at a startup company, where there is little budget for subscribing to fancy user testing tools. So, I'd like to share some methods I have learned and discovered in my remote work. At the end of this post, you can find a template that I made for this purpose. (Feel free to share your thoughts with me)

Planning remote user testing sessions:

Step 0: Objectives, tools, and budget considerations:

First and foremost, we need to define our research objectives.

  1. What is the purpose of conducting a user test?

  2. What are the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are relevant to your current business goals?

  3. Which Minimum Viable Product (MVP) features are you focusing on right now?

  4. Who are the target users? (if you are designing an app for visually impaired users, you also need to consider finding these users and how to find them.)

  5. How can you collect useful data? (This is a vital point to bear in mind when designing research questions and/or writing user testing scripts.)

Then, how much time and budget do you have for this user testing task? The answer to this question can be quite varied. It depends on the size of the company. If it is a startup, mostly, the time and budget to conduct this task are very tight. This means designers who work remotely need to find free tools for this purpose. More importantly, the methods you are applying can affect directly the usefulness of your data, as well as for a later stage of the improvement of your product.

So, based on what I have discovered so far, there are tools I would recommend:

- UsabilityHub for 1) first-click testing, 2) preference (A/B) testing and 3) heatmap. These quantitative data provide general feedback on your research objectives (if what you expect was correct, if not, what are the patterns and how these may lead you to have other perspectives and questions about something?)

- UXtweak for 1) information architecture/card sorting to understand users' comprehension of the logic.

- Google forms for a survey.

- Video conferencing tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google chat (there are other similar ones too) for user interviews and user observations.

There are other lovely tools, but they aren't entirely free. So, I will not mention them here.

Step 1: Writing the research plan and scripts for different user scenarios

It depends on to whom you are showing the research plan. If you are writing it and sharing it with other team members, including the manager and CEO, then, you may need to elaborate more. However, here are some general structures that are relevant to most cases:

  1. Background

  2. Research Objectives

  3. Research Questions

  4. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

  5. Methodology

  6. Participants

  7. Setting

  8. Scripts

  9. Before the usability test

  10. Warm-up questions

  11. During the usability test (This is where the user scenarios come in. The scenarios are ideally tailored to validate your MVP features)

  12. After the usability test

  13. Researchers (Optional)

I believe this is already quite a lot of information in a blog post. So, I will continue sharing the process and relevant templates in other blog posts (Part 2 and Part 3). Stay tuned.

I am interested in your thoughts about it. Feel free to drop me a message.

Books recommendations:

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