Running a Remote Usability Test

This is the second part in a two part series about running a remote moderated usability test. We ended the last lesson having set up the test session with the participant sharing their screen at this point or right before the participant shares their screen, you might pause before beginning the session and ask the participant a few interview questions.

Usually these will be relevant to the test. You might ask if the participant has ever used this app before, or you might ask behavioral questions. Things like what kinds of things do you normally shop for online? These questions will give you context about the participants experiences and preferences, but it will also help to make the participant a bit more comfortable talking to you next. You can start the session by administering the first task. I think it’s really important to make sure that participants have a written copy of the task instructions that they can easily refer back to when they want to check what they’re supposed to be doing.

Many video conferencing tools have a chat feature, and that’s my favorite way to deliver task instructions. I can just copy the text from my facilitators guide and then drop it into the chat. When it’s time to do the task, the participant can easily open up the chat panel to review the task instructions during the test. People can sometimes feel very self-conscious in remote sessions, so I often find that they need a little bit of extra reassurance and every single session I facilitate, I make a point of telling the participant that they’re doing a great job. After the participant seems to have the hang of thinking out loud. I usually tell them something like, you know, I know that this can sometimes feel really uncomfortable, but you’re doing a great job thinking out loud and this is exactly what we need. When the session is over, you’ll ask any remaining follow up questions.

Then you’ll thank the participant and tell them how and when they’ll receive their thank you gift and an in-person study. This is usually easy. Maybe you just hand the person an envelope with the incentive when testing remotely. Remember that people are often very anxious about making sure that they do get the incentive. So tell them specifically how and when that will happen. For example, you might say something like you’ll get an Amazon gift card in your inbox within one hour, then ask the participant to leave the session. But you and your observers are done. Yet another downside of remote testing is that unless you plan for it, there’s way less discussion and analysis with your team. Make sure you schedule at least 15 minutes at the end of each session for you to discuss with your observers and reflect on what you’ve seen so far.

You’ll also need at least another 15 to 30 minutes to reset and prepare for your next session. So make sure that you’re leaving about 30 to 60 minutes in between each session when you schedule them. You might also want to have a larger research reflection workshop scheduled with your observers. At the very end of the study, you can review and discuss findings to start the transition from conducting the study to analysis.

Social Commerce vs. Social Selling

And my research on how users interact with companies on social media, one of the interaction types I identified was around purchasing for e-commerce companies with a presence on social media. There are really two ways for users to make a purchase, and that’s social selling or social commerce. Social selling is similar to traditional advertising and marketing. It could be general post with information about specific products or deals, relevant or interesting imagery or even sponsored and influencer post. Effective and relevant social selling can lead users away from social media and onto channels where users want to make a purchase, whether that’s online or in person. In contrast, there’s social commerce which assist and allows users to make a purchase on social media platforms. This offering is definitely expanding and aims to offer a seamless experience where users can find and purchase something without switching channels. Social commerce is expanding, but not all users are comfortable with it yet. Remember, it takes time for users to change their mental models of what something is or offers. So don’t limit yourself by focusing primarily on social commerce, support social selling and converting users to your site so they can see all of the information you have to offer. Researching the social purchasing behaviors of your existing and potential customers can help you gain insight into their attitudes and expectations for the experience. Use this data to shape your omnichannel strategy and inform the type of information you curate for social media quality. Insight into users social purchasing behaviors can help you optimize your social strategy and lead to a competitive advantage.

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