Once user testing was associated with bulky equipment, scientific laboratories, and huge investments. Thanks to the emergence of technologies for measuring users' behavior online, spreading of neuromarketing research, increasing the number of powerful smartphones remote user testing became accessible even for businesses with modest budgets (How To Do Usability and UX Testing for Mobile App). Here you'll find some simple but important tips and principles to get the most out of the remote user testing.
1. Set your goals
Every test starts with setting concrete goals. It's essential. Without identifying precise indicators, you want to measure during the test, you won’t be able to get any qualitative user insights. After defining goals, you can proceed with setting the quantitative benchmarks which will tell you whether your test was successful or not.
What do you want to achieve during the test? For example, if you want to understand how user-friendly your subscription page is, set the benchmark of 85% for the completion of the task by the test participants. If 85% of users successfully registered without leaving the page halfway, it means that your interface works properly, if not, then you have some homework to do.
2. Track and improve engagement of users
Engaging early-bird testers in the checking of your design helps to understand their preferences before it will become available to a wider audience. The most beautiful thing about this is that users improve the final product themselves and you serve as a mediator of these changes. Some online platforms which allow you to conduct remote tests offer pools of users who are always ready to participate in your tests even on a gratis basis. They also offer numerous demographic filters which you can apply to narrow down your target audience.
3. Be concise with the wording
Try to phrase tasks as shortly and accurately as possible. Remote user testing is probably one of the few spheres where storytelling isn’t the best option (What Kind Of Information Don’t You Receive, Using Only Traditional Surveys).
The manner of tasks phrasing should be understandable to a wide audience:
• Don’t use any terms which seem confusing for users.
• Avoid technical details and long sentences.
• It’s always good to have your texts reviewed by somebody outside of your team. It enables you to get a fresh look at your manner of describing things and receive some valuable advice on how to simplify it.
Always remember that the quality of answers depends on the quality of questions.
4. Use open-ended questions
In real life, nobody will guide users through your interface. That's why leading questions are your greatest enemies (What Is The Ideal Survey Length). They don’t give users room for action, while open-ended questions do. Using open-ended questions will give you an opportunity to identify all the possible ways a user can perform a required action within the tested interface (subscribe for a newsletter, fill in a form, make a purchase, etc.). In order to clearly understand what we are talking about, take a look at these two questions:
1) “Use the menu bar in the upper left corner of the landing page to subscribe for our blog updates”.
2) “Please subscribe for our blog updates”.
It’s obvious, that the first question instructs users how to perform an action, while the second question just asks them to perform it.
5. One at a time
If you want to receive precise and actionable results after the test, try to test one feature/process at a time. Don’t complicate things too much as test participants may become overwhelmed with numerous steps which should be taken to complete a task. If there is no way to omit testing a long, complicated process, try to break it into several logical patterns which will be easier to complete. This will also highly contribute to one of the main goals during the test – keeping users focused.
6. Keep tests short
The shortening attention span of users is one of the trends which influence the testing sphere as well. Short tests help to achieve a high completion rate and decrease the number of distracted test participants. It means that you’ll get a better data representation and will be able to make more comprehensive improvements to the tested objects.
7. Check yourself before going public
Before showing the test to users, make sure that things are working properly, texts are proofread and the logic is there. Imagine how users will treat your product if they encounter problems even while testing it. Always remember, that it’s better to take time and make a good work from the very beginning than spend a lot of time and nerves on redoing it.
Whether you have a small budget, lack of potential participants for the test or raw version of the product it’s still better to test rather than not to. In any case, tests will provide you with valuable feedback from users which will help you improve the product, design or interface in accordance with their preferences and not just your vision.