Making Remote User Research Easier

Making Remote User Research Easier

With the start of the new year, the United States (and much of the world) has been dealing with the new normal of COVID-19. While recent developments have started shining a light at the end of the tunnel, it is likely that the current new, normal for remote user research will likely continue to hold this new normal for the foreseeable future. While many companies have become more accustomed to the work-from-home dynamic (and the researchers at Key Lime has been super busy for the past few months), the remote nature of research during COVID-19 was something to which we needed to adapt, and it did not come easily.

With COVID-19 driving User Experience (UX) research to remote testing instead of in-person, UX researchers needed to adapt to a changing participant base, who may be unfamiliar with the basics of online research.

Don’t Forget Old UX Research Lessons

Even though companies and workers are all trying to/have adapted to the new work-from-home paradigm, many lessons from UX research still apply, perhaps more so than before. For example, simply remember that UX research is still just as (or perhaps more) important as pre-COVID and should be done early and along with development and design can help companies understand the impact of changing user behavior on their products. Don't let COVID-19 be the reason UX research takes a backseat.

Keep Things Simple and Human

COVID-19 is pushing users who are previously unaccustomed to remote research online, and researchers should also prepare accordingly to assist the participants. Try not to make the recruitment process overly complicated, and try to stay with tools that are familiar for the participants (e.g. email or popular apps like Zoom).

Also, add in opportunities for some human interaction can help the participants feel more comfortable. Giving the participants a short phone call to ask a few questions about the project is a nice way to let the participants know that there’s a human behind the project (also a nice way to screen out potential unhelpful participants).

Prepare every step of the research session. While it is hard to predict what can go wrong, preparing for as many different possibilities can help smooth out the research experience. Even something as simple as knowing the buttons to press for screen-sharing on a mobile device can make remote research sessions more efficient and less stressful for the participant.


Lastly, Ask the Experts

Find researchers or professionals in your social circle who are accustomed to working from home or remotely for advice. Rely on the experience of adaptable professionals to help you get through this new normal and decide on the best approaches to UX research. Perhaps our researchers at Key Lime Interactive can even help with that.

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Shao-Yu Chen

Shao-Yu Chen is a UX Research Associate with a background in psychology and Human-Computer Interaction, and deep interest in optimizing customer experiences. Shao-Yu joined Key Lime Interactive as an analyst for the Competitive Insights practice. He led data collection and synthesis for the banking, credit cards, auto insurance, and home insurance reports. Since then, he has crossed over to our consulting side of the business, working with clients to gather deep insights to inform the customer and user experience. Shao-Yu attended Vanderbilt University for his BA in Psychology, and has a Masters in Human-Computer Interaction from Georgia Institute of Technology.


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