In recent years, as user experience research has become more critical or even standard practice, there is a clear trend towards measuring user experience and usability using quantitative research techniques.
WHAT IS URUT?
URUT is an automated test process whereby a script or series of questions is prepared and packaged into an application. Test subjects may be invited in advance to participate, or intercepted when they enter a website. Hundreds of participants may be involved and all their data is gathered and analysed automatically. URUT can be both simple and quite sophisticated, and Fortune Global 2000 and Internet 200 companies are increasingly using Unmoderated Remote Usability Testing (URUT) as part of their user experience and usability research toolkit.
WHY, WHEN AND HOW WOULD YOU USE URUT?
1. To quantify your usability research
One customer base includes different personalities, usage patterns and perspectives. Quantifying site usability is the only way you can ensure that you are reaching a true representation of your diverse population. Using URUT you gain valuable data about that population and can validate lab findings – or alternatively target which critical tasks you need to be probing in a lab-based study.
2. To conduct benchmark studies
URUT allows researchers to obtain statistically significant usability metrics on how a website performs vs. other versions of the site or vs. competing sites. It’s a great way to measure user experience and compare results either across time or through industry benchmarking.
3. To test users in their natural context
My computer and environment is different from my friend’s computer and environment and most likely different than a good portion of the population. Testing participants in their natural context accounts for different systems, configurations, and setups. The data you gain not only accounts for a mix of these various environments and setups but also encourages participants to act as they normally would, as they are not being observed.
4. To understand user behavior
You want to understand why users are coming to your site and what they do once they come there. URUT uses a combination of web analytics (where users go) and surveys (the why) to create a complete picture and provide valuable data to support the best user experience for your site.
5. To validate or define your lab-based research
You want to ensure that the research you are currently conducting is valid and a true representation. With URUT not only do you gain data that supports your current research, you can also use URUT to target key critical issues and tasks to bring in the lab for further probing.
6. To test internationally without traveling
International research is very expensive and at times put aside due to the cost and time commitment. URUT allows you the flexibility to conduct a study in many international locations from one place. Not only does it remove the expense of travel it also removes the need for all data to be translated before analysis.
As the web becomes a more complex place and users interact with it in different ways, user experience and usability testing and measurement must evolve and continuously innovate. URUT is an example of this innovation and has proven its worth for the past 6 or 7 years. The key to solid research lies not only in proper execution and the right technology, but also in the ability of the research team to understand that different data comes from different methods and tools, and that each should be used with a purpose and to meet specific goals (what, why, when and how). The combination of methods and tools is often the best way to go. URUT is a great choice for specific purposes and, if well executed, can become an invaluable source of data about user experience.