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Pioneered both remote and phone/webex usability testing to replace costly in-lab testing

When I joined the eBusiness team, the most usability testing was conducted in-person in standard usability labs. I brought in new tools to do task-based usability testing remotely, either moderated or unmoderated:

  • remote unmoderated usability testing:
    • the respondent uses a website (existing or prototype), completes specific tasks at the site, and answers questions about the process
    • the tools collect the respondent's path data and clickstreams
    • analysis of the respondent's behavior (clicks) in conjunction with his perceptions (survey answers) gives great insight into the true underlying issues of the site

  • remote moderated usability testing:
    • respondents and the moderator interact over phone/webex, where the respondent takes control of the mouse and navigates the sites while the moderator observes and probes
    • teammembers are also on the phone/webex to observe first-hand the issues the respondents face

The benefits of these two complementary types of remote testing versus traditional in-lab testing are:

  • quicker
  • more cost-efficient
    • remote unmoderated testing is no more expensive than a standard survey, yet many times more insightful
    • remote moderated testing eliminates a lot of the costly overhead of live testing (travel, facility costs, videotaping, etc), and allows more sessions to be done in a smaller timeframe
  • more representative
    • we can reach customers all over the world, not just in major metropolitan areas
    • we can observe people using their own computers (where they may have dual monitors, small screen resolution, many browsers open at once, bookmarks, etc)

This switch from in-lab to remote usability testing enabled us to go from tens of usability tests per year to several hundred.



To learn more about remote usability testing, view my article in Boxes and Arrows (note: the available tools have proliferated since this article was written, but it still outlines what at the time (2003) was an innovative and somewhat controversial approach to usability testing.)

Remote Online Usability Testing: Why, How, and When to Use It pdf

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