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Remote UX Research Guide for Product Managers

What is UX Research and why is it important? UX research helps teams discover useful user insights by collecting data from a pool of target consumers.

UX research is the act of conducting research to gather insights about the behaviour of consumers and their needs and motivations using a systematic approach. This includes setting the goals and objectives, observing the natural behaviour of consumers while using the product and then analysing the insights and information and finally gathering feedback. Research is necessary to find the right solutions and innovate with a user centric approach in mind. It helps researchers step into the user’s shoes and optimise the product from the user’s perspective and understand what is lacking or what can be improved.

How is Remote UX research different from traditional UX research?

How is Remote UX Research different?

Remote UX research is primarily conducting this research from anywhere in the world – the researcher and the subject need not be in the same place at the same time.

Remote UX research has a lot of advantages, especially in a post pandemic world. Remote UX research is different from traditional UX research because it can be conducted from anywhere in the world, thus widening the scope and pool of potential consumers. 

The key differences between traditional research and remote research are;

  • A wider pool of consumers to choose from
  • Not limited by geographical area
  • Online connection
  • Flexible
  • Lower costs – eliminates the cost of travel, equipment and lab costs
  • Efficient
  • Safer
  • Faster
  • More inclusive research
  • More realistic because you can observe the participants in their natural environment
  • More people can observe the sessions

Remote UX research has always been an option for UX researchers, however it has become necessary now due to the pandemic. It is a much safer way to conduct research. There are a lot of advantages of remote UX research however it is not necessarily better or worse than traditional research methods. There are also certain disadvantages like the language barrier, time difference challenges etc. With more and more people spending their time online, remote research is now a more viable option.

What are the various ways to conduct remote UX research?

There are primarily two methods of conducting remote UX research – Synchronous and Asynchronous.

Various types of UX Research

Synchronous Remote Research

In the synchronous method, the UX researcher and target consumers meet virtually at a pre-decided time or gather together in the same place.

The advantages of this method are that the user is able to collect the data via responses immediately. There are no chances of any misunderstandings as the users can clarify their doubts with the researcher then and there. The researcher is also able to collect more responses. However, it can also be challenging to control so many people at once, and maintain order during the research process.

Asynchronous Remote Research

The asynchronous research method need not be conducted with the users and researcher present together at the same time in person or virtually. Rather, the researcher prepares a set of questions in advance, or a feedback form and asks the participants to fill it in at their convenience. The users can then fill up the form or submit their responses whenever they complete answering them. The advantages of the asynchronous method are that participants have flexibility to give their feedback at their convenience. They can spend more time answering the questions and ponder over them in leisure rather than being bound to fill it in during a specific time duration. However since they cannot clarify any misunderstandings, they could also submit  incorrect answers. There is also reduced opportunity to interact with other users.

What are Usability Tests?

what are usability tests

After conducting the initial research, the researcher conducts a usability test. A usability test is created by adding changes based on the user’s feedback to the existing product. Consumers are then asked to use the updated product. 

There are two kinds of usability tests – moderated and unmoderated.

Moderated Usability Tests

As the name suggests, in the moderated usability test, the user is monitored by someone else while they use the product. The researcher monitoring the user makes note of the users questions and their facial gestures and expressions. It is advantageous because the user is able to ask the person monitoring them any queries they might have while they use the software, however the monitor may inadvertently give away the expected outcome leading to false results.

Unmoderated Usability Tests

In this kind of usability test, users are not monitored during the course of the test. They are asked to use the product on their own, and it is recorded on video once they start using the product.The main advantage is that the users can take the test at a time and place convenient to them, however if something goes wrong they cannot ask for assistance.

Things to keep in mind during remote UX research: Here are some tips to keep in mind for conducting remote research.

Things to keep in mind during UX Research
  • Selecting the right participants: As a researcher, it is important to select participants that fit the product target audience. Only they will be able to provide the right feedback in terms of how the product can be amended or made better.
  • Generate a test script: The test needs to be easily understood by the participants and provide enough guidance to help them reach the end goal. However the correct outcome should not be given away inadvertently. A test script can help avoid any mistakes.
  • The content should be proofread to avoid any mistakes.

There are lots of tools that can help simplify the process of conducting UX research remotely. As product managers you can assist your researcher by providing them access to some of these online tools that will help them juggle the multiple roles they need to carry out like selecting the right participants, creating the questions and carrying out analysis to find insights.

A few of them are;

  • For video conferencing: Zoom, Google Meet, Skype
  • For scheduling: Google Calendar, Calendly
  • For taking notes: Evernote
  • For creating forms: Google Forms
  • For transcribing the session: Rev, Trint
  • For collecting insights: Dovetail, Notion
  • For field research: Voice recorder, Notes

In conclusion, the advantages of remote UX research outweigh the disadvantages and especially during the pandemic, remote UX research is a useful tool to continue conducting research. It can be much more efficient and affordable to conduct UX research remotely in a safe environment and gather the right insights and feedback.

Published by Antara Bhargava

Sr. UX Designer

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Antara Bhargava Sr. UX Designer