In these uncertain times, individuals, businesses and entire industries have had to learn to adapt – sometimes in dramatic and unprecedented ways. Certainly, anyone involved in product development has noticed that in-person user research has been impacted and requires a greater degree of creativity to achieve results. An experienced product development firm with a strong toolkit for executing remote user research can quickly pivot and adapt to provide greater flexibility and client benefits in this “new normal.”
Kaleidoscope Innovation is one such product development firm with extensive experience employing remote testing methodologies. Our standards for delivering quality-based and accurate deliverables remain high while we keep safety for all involved as our primary concern.
Yes, this is about remote testing. However, this profoundly unique situation requires additional measures beyond those associated with traditional remote testing. This is especially true if a physical test product or prototype needs to be shipped. Software programs, for instance, can be transmitted and displayed on the web or a smartphone without personal handling. However, additional safety measures around shipping physical objects should be both implemented and communicated to help keep participants safe and to put their mind at ease while testing.
Research teams need to exercise both flexibility and wisdom as they adapt their remote research to this unique time.
There are always going to be challenges inherent to any research approach, especially when technologies are used. Telephones, laptops and web cams of some sort must often be used in remote testing, and this may be difficult to execute seamlessly with participants who live a more low-tech lifestyle. Even with remote technology, observing and studying human behavior and product interaction becomes more challenging without the inherent benefits of in-person observations.
Here are a few challenges and questions that our team considers with remote testing, as well as some of their tips.
Challenge: Knowing Where to Start
Challenge: Keeping Participants Safe – and Feeling Safe
Challenge: Avoiding Biased Results
Challenge: Collecting Quality Data
We have outlined a few of the remote testing challenges and questions to consider while addressing them. But there are some important benefits of remote testing that are important to capitalize on as well.
To start, right now remote testing helps ensure the safety of all involved during these uncertain times. This is a central benefit as research teams should be focusing now on safety of their participants and team members as their primary concern.
Additionally, remote testing in general enables research teams to reach a broader group of people across a wider geographic range, including internationally. This can allow for a greater degree of confidence from the sample size; especially for studies without real-time moderation it can be easier to obtain a larger sample size and find statistically significant differences. It might also enable teams to reach participants whom in-person access would have otherwise been difficult to gain, and to capture moments-based insights and longitudinal data over a period of time.
Further, the execution of the study (data collection) often costs less and takes less time. However, it is important to keep in mind that remote studies can be more complex, requiring more time for preparation and analysis. Expenses involved in remote studies – for example shipment of testing materials – tend to be overlooked or underestimated.
Finally, depending on how the study is organized, remote testing can often serve as a more flexible option for participants to take on their own time. (NOTE: The research team needs to be more flexible too!)
In conclusion, it is important to think through all of the challenges, risks and benefits associated with remote testing and create a test and testing environment that work best for your participants and your project objectives. At Kaleidoscope Innovation, we consider all of these questions and more for remote studies. We are continuing to engage in Insights and Human Factors work and have been adjusting to the current climate by leaning on our remote testing and other expertise to serve clients in these uncertain times. If you’re looking for Insights and Human Factors support for your project, fill out our contact form or reach out to a member of our team.