Setting up my initial UXR system revolved around four main objectives.
- Having something to test
- Finding someone to test it
- Providing a way to get that someone to test that something
- Establishing a way to observe that someone testing that something
Now 1 and 2, for me, were actually the easiest. Coming into an established company one can expect that there are a few legacy products or works-in-progress lying around waiting to be tested. Further, coming into an established company that caters to a pretty specific demographic, e.g. college and career counselors or like personnel, one can expect to be a step ahead in regards to connecting with your target demographic. So for objective 2, I was able to score a list of ~2,500 ‘power users’ of our legacy product. These power users were the most active members on our customer feedback forum.
Objectives 3 and 4 were a bit trickier and required some ingenuity and systems thinking. I had to provide a way for interested end-users to signup for individual sessions, receive confirmation, and understand what to do when it was time for them to participate. I should mention now that I planned on utilizing remote research for the purposes of testing each study’s payload. In brief, remote research involves… you guessed it… connecting with your participant(s) remotely. Here, participants connect with me over the Internet and are able to view and interact with the study payload in a fashion that allows me to monitor behavior while gathering verbal feedback.
Before I describe my initial setup I’d like to make the following disclaimers:
There were a lot of pain points in my initial setup that have been alleviated over time. Though these pain points were mostly on my end there were other aspects that affected participants and other departments within the company. However, I’ll get to those later.
Though I have made modifications to my system over time, much of it still remains the same. Further, because I am explaining this now-modified setup retrospectively with every intention of providing future posts about future modifications, I will go ahead and posit it in the present tense.
So without further adieu, here are the basics of my initial UXR system.
- End-users receive an email notification that Company X needs participants for one or more up coming UXR studies.
- Interested end-users follow a provided link to a mysignup.com page where they select from a pre-established set of session dates/ times. Sessions are an hour in length. However, I generally try to keep every remote UXR session to about 30-40 minutes.
- When an end-user signs up, I receive an email notification on my end. I then manually respond with session date/time confirmation, information about the study, and instructions on how to connect to me remotely. In addition, I inform them that I record UXR sessions for the purpose of re-cap and review and that I will remind them again the day of the study.
- On the day of the study, end-users (now participants) receive a call from me, via Skype, a minute or so before the start of their session. If they have not already, I remind them to connect to the web conferencing tool, join.me, in order to view my screen.
- Once the join.me connection is made and the participant is able to view my screen, I ask permission to record the session.
- When all is fine and dandy, I generally execute the following outline during each session. However, I’ll provide more information on methods and study plans later.
- Gather demographics (if necessary)
- Explanation of tasks to be performed
- Participant performance of tasks
- Study debriefing
Of note, I use ScreenFlow, a Mac application, to record any UXR session where the study payload can be visible on the screen. A really nice and convenient feature of ScreenFlow is its ‘configure recording’ window, which also houses the little red start recording button. Participants, viewing my screen, are able to watch me click the record button. The subsequent countdown to screen recording that follows is just icing on the cake.
Another great thing about ScreenFlow is that it has the ability to capture all internal and external audio. Seeing that a huge component to any UXR session is the verbal feedback you get from your participants, being able to capture their comments and your conversation clearly is a huge plus, especially if you or a stakeholder plan to revisit the session recording. Further, having the audio connection exist via VoIP provides for the best sound recording quality. Which is why I use Skype to connect with my participants.