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Posted by Claire Cahill on 29 April 2015

Our learnings from the recent NUX Remote User Experience Workshop

NUX (Northern User Experience) is a network of people interested in user experience who meet up once a month to discuss different aspects of user experience. Originally starting in Manchester, it’s since spread to Leeds and most recently Newcastle. It’s great to be part of such a thriving community.

Photo of people at NUX event

Recently a few of the Status team went to the second NUX talk, which focussed on remote user testing by the founder of whatusersdo.comLee Duddell.

I found the talk really useful, so I thought I’d share some of the insights gained.

Pros and Cons

First we discussed the pros and cons of testing remotely as opposed to other ways of conducting user testing.

One of the pros included speed - you get feedback pretty quickly and you can also continue with other work whilst the tests are on-going. A further key benefit is the fact that you can access a wide variety of people really easily.

Cons included the fact that registered users tend to be fairly computer literate by nature, so this may mean the results are slightly biased and whilst we hear users narrating what they’re doing, we don’t get to see their body language.

Top Tips

Lee offered his top tips for user testing remotely which I’ve summarised below:

  1. Working out when to test - when you want ‘why’ answers to questions posed by analytics
    Analytics provides a lot of really useful data but doesn’t give the whole picture. We might be able to see that there is a big bounce rate on product pages, but user testing allows us to see specifically how people are using it and what is putting people off - for example not being able to see decent sized images on an ecommerce site.
  2. Test early
    Testing early in the design and development saves both time and money as it highlights any potential issues while it’s still quick and easy to fix them. It can also avoid internal debate as decisions shouldn’t be made based on opinions, either our own or that of the client – but on firm evidence of what the end users are actually doing.
  3. Expose as many colleagues as you can to user videos.  
    It is important that everyone involved in the project gets to see the user testing results. At ao.com they encourage everyone from the senior managers to the warehouse staff to watch user testing videos by tempting them in with free pizza on Friday lunchtimes!  Read more in whatusersdo.com’s case study.
  4. Write tasks for a user to attempt, not survey questions for them to answer.  
    Don’t ask ‘what do you think of the homepage’, instead ask things like ‘where would you click first?’ Be specific - rather than asking them to find products they would chose for themselves, give them a specific product to search for.
  5. Don’t just test the homepage.  
    Start tests from where users start their journey – for example from a google search, landing page or social channels. This also tests how effective the SEO and marketing campaigns are, and is more realistic of an actual user’s journey. You can also test things like page speed and see how this affects the user experience.
  6. Test your tests!  
    If you’re not sure if your tasks are quite right, you can run a couple of pilot tests first to check they’re ok.
  7. Guide to task writing.  
    Start off by setting some context and setting the scene for your user. Start with questions such as ‘would you trust this site with your card details’ before getting them into more detailed tasks such as registering with the site. Ask questions like ‘what would you expect to happen when you click on ‘Register’ to see if the experience matches their expectations.
  8. Don’t just test your own site. 
    It can also be useful to carry out tests on competitor websites to see how your site performs in comparison.
  9. Ignore user design opinions.  
    ​When you’re analysing your test videos, make sure you ignore any design opinions from your users and instead focus on what they’re doing and how they’re behaving.

I’ll finish in the same way that Lee did - with a quote from usability expert Jakob Nielsen:

Photo of a presentation slide with the quote 'Shut up and listen to users' by Dr Jakob Nielsen

 Thanks NUX - I look forward to the next one! 


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