Extreme remote usability testing

I recently carried out some remote user testing using my firm’s video conferencing facilities. Usually when I do remote testing, I phone the test participant and proxy on to their screen to see what they are doing. That’s easy to do, but of course you can’t see their facial expressions.

This time we’d thought we’d go all the way to capture that important non-verbal communication. Here’s a representation of what I could see from the video-conferencing room in Paris:

Two big screens: one showing people in 4 cities, the other with the system under test

There were 2 large flatscreen monitors on the wall, with a camera between them. One screen showed the system under test, and the other showed all the people taking part:

  • The test facilitator (me) in Paris
  • The test participant in Vienna
  • A standby translator in Cologne
  • The project managers observing from London

It was quite tricky setting up the simultaneous feeds from 4 different countries, and there was a slight delay in the audio – similiar to what happens when you see a TV satelite link up, but overall it was worth it. There would have been no other way to bring all these people together within a reasonable financial or ecological budget.