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Remote Evaluation

A Remote Evaluation is a usability test participants and facilitators are not in the same location. This is a useful when a more diverse sample of users is required, when working with international participants, or when time or budget constraints prevent in-person sessions. These tests can also be Eye-Tracking Tests if recording users’ visual focus is a requirement.

Remote tests can be moderated and performed much like in-person lab usability tests (for example, using the Think-Aloud Protocol). Remote Evaluation allows the user to be observed as they test drive the product on their computer at home or work, rather than in controlled lab conditions, where the unfamiliar context can result in unreliable outcomes.

Alternatively, if you need large amounts of data, you can perform unmoderated task-based evaluations with the aid of usability testing software or third party vendors.

Description

Schedule Time & Gather Materials

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Schedule Time:

  • Time for Preparation: 2 – 3 Hours
  • Time per Moderated Test: 1 Hour
  • Number of Tests: 6
Gather Materials

Gather Materials:

For a Moderated Test:

  • A remotely-accessible, testable version of the product
  • Meeting software with screen sharing capabilities
  • Screen recording software with audio

For an Unmoderated Test:

  • A testable version of your site or app
  • User testing software or service membership (see “More”)

Carry Out This Method

  1. Determine if a moderated or unmoderated test is optimal. Take into account the specific tasks or information that you need to test, your target audience, and time and cost considerations.
  2. If you need a test that is task-based or question-based but is NOT moderated, check below for links to software and services.
  3. If you need to conduct a moderated lab test, use video conferencing and screen sharing software such as WebEx, GoToMeeting, or Google Hangouts.
  4. Make sure each participant has the correct video conferencing software. Give them a testable copy of the product so they can access it from their computer. This may be a prototype URL or a downloadable file.
  5. Record your screen, with audio, for the duration of the session.
  6. At the start of the session, ask the user to share their screen to observe their actions. Some software, like Skype, will support screen sharing and video calling at the same time.
  7. Give your user a task to complete and ask them to express their thoughts and feelings aloud throughout the session. Do not guide the user, except to guide them back to a start point if they stray off course.
  8. Perform the test on about six users for useful results.

For Non-Task-Based, Unmoderated Testing, see:

Try These Tips

Remote access software (intended for tech support professionals to take control of your machine), like UltraVNC or Windows Remote Desktop, can be used if there is no remotely accessible test product available. In this case, you would load the product on your end and the test user would remotely access your computer. With this method, both facilitator and user need to install software.

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