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Remote Usability Testing

From: Thomas Donehower, Dir UX at X.
Sent on: Thursday, February 23, 2012 10:56 AM
Just wanted to thank those who responded to me about remote usability
testing. I've had much success with the following setup and wanted to
share the results.

1. MacBook Pro
2. Silverback - http://silverback...­
3. Skype
4. Printed test plan and pen
5. Mac Remote
6. MSFT mouse

For testing I'm basically in a small conference room with the tester.
I have my MacBook Pro on the table with Silverback running in the
background recording the screen session and the user's face and
comments. I encourage the tester to talk out loud even though it may
feel funny. During the session I use my remote to either add a task or
highlight. This is a feature in Silverback that basically adds a
marker to the recorded session in real time so when you go back and
review it you can jump to to those areas or only export those areas
you marked. Using the remote vs. the keyboard is definitely
recommended so as not to interfere with your tester. Also, I've found
the buttonless Mac mice are difficult for users who aren't familiar
with them. Most of the time I give the testers a a wired MSFT mouse
with two buttons.

I also may have Skype running in the background if there's a need for
someone else or a group to see the sessions while they're being
conducted. I simply use wifi to connect with the person in the other
room and share my screen. The group can't see the user's face with
this setup, but we've found it's adequate so long as they can hear the
tester and see the screen. The group in the other room can then text
me during the test with any additional questions they may want me to
ask the tester.

After testing is complete, I export the sessions from Silverback.
Warning! This may take several hours depending on how powerful your
Mac is. This may also start to take up a lot of space on your hard
drive so you may want to get an external drive if you're going to be
doing a lot of video. I then import the video into iMovie and edit
clips to create a highlights reel for the client of the most important
discoveries from the session. Also, be prepared, importing into iMovie
may take several hours so make sure you leave yourself the time.
Here's a great primer on iMovie if you've never used it -­.
If you've never made a highlights reel of your sessions to share with
clients, I strongly recommend it. It's a much more effective way of
sharing your findings and getting buy-in on your recommendations.

Thanks again to all those who guided me down this path for this
simple, mobile, and practical usability lab.



Thomas Donehower

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