Usability testing is a process of testing your product – in our case, websites or web apps – with users. Observing how users interact with and use products allows you to gain valuable insight for optimization or redesign to better suit the needs of users. We will be talking about website usability testing throughout the whole article.
Conducting usability testing is arguably one of the smartest decisions you are going to make in product development. It’s a great way to test the website’s functionality, the effectiveness of content categorisation, or even information architecture. Usability testing is crucial, as it allows you to evaluate your product, discover frustrating points, and fix them before release. This saves you a significant amount of work and money caused by later optimization and – not to forget – nerves.
There are many methods of usability testing:
- session recordings,
- card sorting,
- tree testing,
you will learn more about them in our upcoming articles on our blog. Today, we are going to discuss one of the methods in particular – remote usability testing.
You might be asking: ”If usability testing is so important, why doesn’t everyone do it?”
Well, the simple answer is that proper usability testing is very rigorous and expensive.
Usability testing in-person/at the site is a powerful tool, but it is not always available, or the smartest thing to do. It requires a UX laboratory with expensive equipment, the right participating testers, experienced UX researchers to conduct the tests… you get the idea.
Unfortunately, a lot of teams out there don’t have these resources at hand. That is when remote testing comes in place. It crams most of the great things from in-person usability testing into an online tool available to pretty much everyone.
What is remote testing?
Remote testing is very similar to traditional usability testing. The main difference is that remote testing uses software as a medium to conduct testing, and the participants and facilitators can be in different locations. The premise stays the same – it is all about capturing how users employ the products, and analyzing their reactions and behaviours.
When and why you should choose remote testing
With remote testing, you cannot pick up some signs like body language or subtle expressions. You can’t ask follow-up questions at the right time, with the right participants, like an experienced user researcher would.
But with remote testing, neither facilitators nor the participants have to travel – which saves a significant portion of a budget when your users live far away. It also allows testing users in a space where they feel comfortable – their homes. It is the ideal option in unexpected situations, where there is no possibility of meeting in person.
International teams can all participate and use the information gathered from remote user research despite their different locations. This allows international teams or global corporations to participate in gathering and applying user insights into their products.
Remote testing is also a great solution for smaller teams, or teams with limited resources, when testing in UX labs or buying expensive equipment is not an option. Not to mention, most of the online UX research tools are quite affordable.
In the case of traditional testing, your team has to record participants, take notes, analyze video footage, and go through pages of text to get the information you need. This takes a lot of time. On the other hand, UX research tools do this for you. They organize the information, and some of them even come with advanced filters to save you time when analyzing results.
What can you learn with remote testing?
Armed with insights from remote testing, you are able to design usable and effective web navigation and structure. Construct information architecture that is understandable to your specific target group. Validate your design ideas with users to ensure you are making the right design decisions. Group the content of your website, blog, or e-shop into categories that your users expect it to be in.
The result is saving users frustration and possibly increasing your conversion and likelihood of visitors coming back. Remote testing is useful for all kinds of websites and web apps, no matter the content or the stage of development. If you’re thinking about starting, don’t wait; the sooner you start testing, the better.
What are the benefits and disadvantages of remote testing?
As with everything, remote testing has its ups and downs. Here are some of the advantages and possible disadvantages.
- Less expensive than in-person usability testing (generally)
- No need for UX laboratory and specialised equipment
- Eliminates the effect of lab environment on testers
- Allows to test on a greater number of participants
- Access to results anytime from anywhere
- Quick feedback gathering and simpler data analysis
- Facilitators and participant don’t need specialised equipment
- Not able to analyse body language
- Possible compromise of security and sensitive data
- Technical difficulties on the user’s and the facilitator’s side: slow and/or unreliable Internet connection, unfamiliarity with technology, hard to use interface, etc.
- A high drop-off rate, low completion
- Possible data corruption
How to start remote usability testing
- Register to UXtweak – You can do that by clicking here.
- Pick what you want to test – The whole website? Just the landing page? Navigation menu? Information architecture? Content categorisation? Functionality?
- Define your goals – Set what you what to improve
- Choose the right testing feature for the job – UXtweak offers a lot of features:
- RePlay Visitors – To record your users, track their activity, heatmaps and more – analyze their behaviour and figure out how they use your web and what is frustrating to them.
- RePlay Task – Test usability and functionality in real-life scenarios. Record your visitors, how they complete given tasks, and figure out what they don’t understand.
- CardSort – When you need to design understandable and effective navigation menus or website structures. Or, to validate and optimize your existing content categorization and labelling.
- TreeTest – To make your navigation menu intuitive and test the effectiveness of your information architecture.
- Create your test and launch it – Define tasks, upload a tree, prepare cards, and prepare for launch. In case you need help, read our documentation or contact our support.
- Find and recruit your target users – You want to test your product on its real users. Define who they are and where you’re going to find them. Just send respondents a study link, recruit them through social media channels or directly from your web through the Recruiter widget, which turns your reals users into study participants
- Analyse results
- Optimize and improve
And finally…Do it again!
Remote usability testing is a way to get the opinions of users and valuable insights when budgets are tight, time is limited, or testers live around the globe. Even though remote testing cannot entirely overtake in-person usability testing just yet, it is a great substitute.
Try it now for yourself with UXtweak’s 14-day free trial. Register here!