“Usability testing? It’s just a waste of time and money!”
How often have you heard this, or versions of this, only to find yourself on the right side of things? Usability testing has often been seen as an added headache to the already-intense iterative design process. Of course, remote usability testing tools managed to bring about some change in the stakeholders’ perspectives, but there was still a long way to go.
However, with remote work taking over professional lives for the past two years across the globe, it is no surprise that remote usability testing tools are having a moment in the spotlight.
The primary difference between traditional usability tests and their remote versions is that the participant and facilitator are in two different locations. Remote user experience testing has the participants use and interact with the product in their own home, office, or other location, with the moderator observing from a different location.
Usability testing is at the heart of effective UX design. In fact, it is a significant step in the final stages of the design process which allows you to verify assumptions, back up research, and avoid unexpected setbacks or surprises right before moving to development. In a recent project we took up to redesign a lab analytics tool, the user testing exercise revealed how readability and affordance (possible actions that the user can take) were making it difficult for users who were color blind. This was vital to course-correcting the design and setting the right priorities for development.
While in-person usability testing is recommended whenever possible, since it’s easier for moderators to observe users in their own environment, it has been considered logistically difficult in the era of social distancing. However, considering that the alternative might be skipping the exercise altogether, remote usability testing is always preferable. In fact, remote usability testing has always been the go-to method in cases when budget or time constraints did not allow in-person testing.
There are two types of remote usability testing methods – moderated and unmoderated.
Remote moderated usability testing mimics an in-person study except that the moderator and participants are in different physical locations. Video conferencing tools such as Google Meet or Zoom are the go-to apps for remote moderated testing. The moderator usually observes the test online and may interact with participants via phone, email, chat, or a combination of these.
Remote unmoderated usability testing has the participants complete the test on their own. Their session is recorded for review at a later time. While there is no moderator-participant interaction during the test, you can have predefined questions or tasks within the test. There is also the option to send the questions via email once the test is completed.
7 remote usability testing software for your product
UXArmy is a comprehensive, all-round tool that gathers qualitative and quantitative data and collates it in the form of screen interaction videos, surveys, and graphic visualizations. Designers and researchers can make use of the UXArmy platform to collect remote feedback on the usability of their designs.
With a panel of 25000+ verified testers, it is easy for product teams to pick a group that best matches their target users. Their usability testing tool is effective in terms of budget and time. It offers both, moderated and unmoderated usability tests, along with card sorting and tree testing.
Find out more about their plans and subscriptions here.
Usertesting.com is one of the oldest, most trusted user testing tools in the industry. It has now expanded its offerings to a bouquet of service design experiences for product managers and marketers, besides UX professionals. With a sizeable panel of users based across the world, usertesting.com boasts of the fastest turnaround time from their user panel.
Its Human Insight platform is a video-first platform where you can see and hear the experiences of real people as they engage with your products, designs, apps, processes, concepts, or brands. It offers pre-formatted tests and same-day video interviews designed to get you real customer feedback within a matter of hours.
Quite like usertesting.com, UserZoom has been in the market for far too long now and has a devoted user base. It assists with user-focused decision-making on product strategy, information architecture, and UX and CX questions at every stage of product development.
UserZoom Go is the low-cost version of the product that offers both, unmoderated usability testing and seamless moderated interviews. The original UserZoom, on the other hand, is geared towards larger, enterprise products that depend on research at scale in various departments of the organization.
4. Optimal Workshop
Optimal Workshop brings up an array of tools catering to information architecture, user research, and UX design. However, its specialty is running information architecture tests.
Besides these, it also has dedicated usability test types such as card sorting, tree testing, and first-click testing. It assists in the recruitment and targeting of users across 70+ languages, either remotely or in person.
Another standout feature of Optimal Workshop is that their free plan lets you explore all of the functions of their various tools.
Userlytics boasts of a global panel of over one million usability testing participants from around the world. Their remote usability testing tools feature a Picture-in-Picture (PiP) system which is helpful in sighting non-verbal contextual insights and information from the participants.
Additionally, Userlytics results are reviewed by a dedicated QA team to ensure quality results. This tool is especially useful for teams that have very specific needs based on ethnography and demographics.
Maze is a rapid testing platform that is centered on quantitative usability metrics. Designers can import prototypes from Adobe XD, Figma, InVision, Marvel, or Sketch with their seamless integration.
Their remote usability testing tool includes tests for path analysis, heatmaps, along with card sorting and tree testing. An insightful usability test report is generated instantly for each test.
UsabilityHub describes itself to be the Swiss Army Knife of user research, and it’s quite true. This remote user research platform helps run different types of research tests such as first-click tests, design surveys, preference tests, and five-second tests to identify usability issues.
The platform has a built-in participants panel with over 170,000 testers available on-demand. There is also a provision to invite your own users to participate in the test.
Their reporting features like click visualizations, open text analysis, and task duration metrics are especially useful to smaller product designers and individual testers.
As we conclude, this is the perfect place to reiterate an important usability mantra – you are not your user. This is what makes usability testing arguably one of the most important tasks for designers and product managers. Remote usability testing is key to uncovering details of how real people respond to products and experiences.
How do you take up usability testing in your organization? Do you have to make a case for it or is it a standard practice? Do share your experiences in the comments section.
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