Synchronous, Remote, Real-Time, Internet-based Usability Tests … what for? – Part 3 –

The previous week, I posted part Two of this article.

toolsTools Which Facilitate (partially) Synchronous Remote Usability Testing:

Here I will be listing some of the tools which in some way would aid in conducting Synchronous Remote Usability testing. Most of the tools will only fulfill some of the requirements listed previously or only implement partially the methodologies above.

Online Conferencing Systems:
These tools allow screen-sharing and remote control of mouse movements and the keyboard.

Although those tools allow you to observe and control tests sessions they come with a few flaws:

  • Test-users are required to install the client software on their own system
  • Firewalls may block the software (5% of test-users experience this problem)
  • Real-time amendments of the prototype is not possible
  • The moderator can’t use his machine for other tasks whilst conducting a test (making notes is not possible)
  • Latency problems
  • Test-user can not work on a familiar desktop environment

Screen Capture Software:
These programs allow virtual recording of the test-users screen. Test sessions can be recorded and stored but hardware configurations are often insufficient which leads to lagged test results.

Video Conferencing Tools:
Video conferencing tools (Skype, MSN Messenger etc.) allow the moderator and test-user to communicate via live audio&video feeds. The downside is that the client software needs to be installed on both system. Also specific testing of prototypes is not possible and would require additional software which use-up additional bandwidth and system memory.

Presentation Softwares:
MS PowerPoint is a great tool for static presentations, is however limited in it’s collaboration and sharing features.

Video Editing Tools:
You can also create video snippets of your presentations ( MS MovieMaker, Adobe Premiere etc.) but it is a lot of hassle and will surely put you off quickly.

Online Questionaires:
Online questionnaires created with Google Form or Surveymonkey are great applications for getting quantitative feedback on your product. It is however difficult to organize and match the feedback to the right user and test session.

Since this overview on incomplete tools for Synchronous Remote Usability Testing tools could go on forever, I do not wish to withhold the solution for you guys!
A little self-promotion will follow:

pidoco° Usability Suite:
The pidoco° usability suite is an online, web-based collaborative platform which allows to create, share and test prototypes in an instance. It is a tool which combines rapid prototyping of fully interactive prototypes and has powerful collaboration features:

  • Prototype Creator (creates realistic & fully functional prototypes via drag&drop)
  • Reviewer (allows asynchronous work-flow and feedback collection)
  • Remote Usability Tester (Synchronous Remote Usability Testing with screen-sharing, live audio-feed and mouse-tracking)

Conclusion: success

It is possible to conduct user tests at an early stage. The aim for every company is to deliver their product on time and with the least hassle possible. Every year thousands of agencies spend a fortune on running all sorts of tests and still deliver products with flaws which need later amendments. The problem is that early-on, qualitative feedback is needed yet often not achieved due to budget limitations.

Technology allows us to connect to connect to people around the globe, so why not use this opportunity to run usability test session online. It will save us the cost of travel, give the test-user the comfort of staying in his home or at his workplace and create a greener world for all of us!

1 Comment

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