Moderated User Testing is a useful way for testers to work with users who are not in the same location as themselves. There are certain challenges, such as passing on incentives, but at the same time there are enormous benefits, such as being able to reach testers globally.
For the tester, videotaping the session is essential. Moderated user testing can capture facial expressions and user quotes, but it is often challenging to read and assess all of that in real time.
One drawback is that appointments need to be made to run the test. This isn’t an asynchronous experience, in other words. Scheduling something with a remote tester can be challenging, and in certain projects one might find that you have a lot of no shows. So, this could have the challenge of being time consuming.
But, once everything is captured, even with a small subset of users, one can gain quite a lot of feedback, particularly attitudinal feedback. Moderate user testing is also useful in that it allows for the correlation of attitudinal feedback and behavioral feedback.
Testing can be incredibly useful–even essential to rolling out an new product. But it can be cost-prohibitive. Small firms might not have the resources to find the right users, employ testers, set up a room with specialized one-way glass, etc. Of course, people do testing in this way for important reasons: if you have a specialized set up, you need to have the testers on-site.
But, often remote research has significant advantages. If you are developing a website with global reach, testing remotely allows you to create a diverse testing base. You save money in terms of space and set up. Newer tools allow testers to remote in, see all the key strokes, but also the facial expressions of the testers.
Remote testing isn’t without its challenges. If you connection to your remote tester fails, you are out of luck. You might not be able to observe facial expressions clearly with the interface. You do have to find a way to send incentives to remote testers. And, you might get push back from your stakeholders as remote testing isn’t universally accepted.
Even with the possible downsides, the significant positive points make remote research an important tool for user experience researchers.