Category Archives: Uncategorized

Using Skype for Moderated Remote Usability Testing

By | Research, Uncategorized, Usability Testing, UX | 7 Comments

I used Skype and Ecamms Call Recorder for Skype to conduct moderated remote usability testing around the world on a clickable Marvel app prototype. Heres how I got on.

I’ve been working for a Japanese sportswear company who wanted some usability testing done on a new feature they were planning for their fitness app. As the app has a healthy (pun intended) global user base they were keen to test with users from around the word which mean’t remote usability testing on a clickable prototype put together in Marvel app.

When I’ve conducted moderated remote usability testing in the past I’ve used screen sharing services like Webex and GoToMeeting but I’ve always found the requirement on the end user to install various plugins troublesome and the cost (at the time) was prohibitive.

My loose set of requirements this time around was:

  • No plugins to install
  • Low cost
  • Reliable
  • Record screen, audio and video of the participant

I settled on Skype in the end as its pretty ubiquitous these days and although the app would need setting up and installing the chances were that a lot of respondents would already have it up and running.  Because I had a few thousand potential participants I took a gamble and was explicit in the screener recruitment survey that we would be using and Skype on a desktop or laptop and this was a requirement. Despite this I still got a 20% response rate which was better than I normally get for face to face interviews (what also helped was a fairly loose set of requirements for participants and also doing the tests over the weekend).

Skype doesn’t have an inbuilt recording capability but there are a few plugins that can allow this. I used Call Recorder for Skype by Ecamm and at $29.95 was pleased with the results.

What went well with the testing:

  •  Low barrier to entry mean’t that I got a good response and including Skype as a requirement didn’t seem to put people off
  •  Not having to mess about with talking people through installing plugins on the day took a lot of the pressure off me and allowed me to focus on the testing
  •  The call and video quality was excellent so I was able to include excerpts in the final presentation deck for the client
  •  Conducting the testing at the weekend meant I got a good response and because it was remote meant I could spread it out over a couple of days without having to hire meeting rooms
  •  People seemed more at ease with the test and opened up a lot quicker because they were at home
  • It was cheap to run compared with hiring meeting room space

What went less well:

  •  Skype wasn’t quite as flawless as I hoped. Two out of the five couldn’t share their screen without Skype crashing.
  •  I also had the call drop a few times for no particular reason which was annoying and interrupted the flow

So would I use Skype again? Probably yes. Despite its flaws it was pretty easy to use for the participants and although its no substitute for face to face interviews it was still pretty effective and I got lots of good feedback. Conducting it over the weekend wasn’t ideal (for me!) but mean’t I could talk to more people and turn around the test results quickly.

Proposals and Pitching – a few do’s and don’ts from a clients perspective

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

As part of my ongoing work with the BFI we recently invited a few agencies to come in and pitch for a new project (more details on that to follow).  This experience prompted me to rant a bit on Twitter about the approach that agencies take when pitching for work so  I thought rather than boring my followers anymore I’d list some of the Do’s and Don’ts for writing proposals and pitching from a client perspective:


READ THE BRIEF!! Sounds obvious but you’d be surprised. Agencies who respond with well thought out proposals which respond to the requirements get invited in to pitch, simple as that.

Unless specified otherwise the basic format should be as follows:

  • Executive summary (an over view of your understanding of the brief and asummary of what you’re going to do for them and how much its going to cost)
  • Approach (The bit where you wow them with your exciting ideas for theproject)
  • Methodology (how you intend to do the work. Keep it short!)- Timescales (when you plan on getting the work done and the stages involved)
  • Costs (make sure you include *everything* including any expenses you might incur if you intend on recharging these.)
  • The team (highlighting experience is a must here)
  • *Relevant* work experience and projects
  • Contact details

Cut down on the boilerplate. I come from an agency background so I know how easy it is to pad out a proposal with boilerplate but believe  me when you have to wade through multiple 30 page proposals full of guff you soon lose the will to live. Keep it short, keep it to the point, make it easy to read (top tip: bullet points are your friend!).

Remember that if this a proposal for a larger project then its most likely going to be seen by quite a few people who will have to fit this around their day to day work so make this task as easy as possible for them. They will always skip through to the Approach and the Price first then if you still have their attention they’ll read the rest of the proposal.

Trim the processes waffle – As a client I have carefully chosen a select few agencies to send this brief out to based on recommendations, past experience and your website. I’m assuming a basic level of competence to deliver a project so no need to bang on about your processes which will inevitably get dumped as soon as you start on the project.  Besides which your Creative Processes are all the same as the next agency – you are not unique in your approach!

Mention it sure, but I really want you to tell me about your ideas to make this project amazing and how you are going to go about it.

Don’t sell yourself short! – If its not already listed in the brief ask for a ball park figure for the budget and estimate the project around that. Generally speaking the client will have a set amount of money allocated for the project and thats what they will expect the estimates to come in at (+/- 10%). You won’t win the work because you’re cheap; it just makes the client suspicious of the quality they will be getting. They would rather the product you are working on exceeded their expectations therefore winning praise from their superiors than saving a few pounds.

Include bios and case studies. Especially if this is a new client. They want to know not only who you have worked with but also some short case studies around the project and how you went about it. They also are interested in seeing short biographies of the team that will be working on the project and their experience.

Don’t be shy about teaming up. If you don’t have the right in house people for a part of the job and its a requirement for the brief don’t try and bluff your way through it. Partner up with someone to do this bit of the work and be honest about that. Theres nothing worse than reading a proposal written by someone who obviously has no idea what they’re talking about. UX is a prime example of this.

Cut the Bullshit – This is a biggie. Don’t try and lie about experience or clients that you don’t have or bend the truth to breaking point. The internet makes the world a very small place and you will get found out which will fast track your proposal to the bin and tarnish your reputation for ever.


– Do your prep. When you are invited to pitch the client wants you to wow them with your ideas and how you intend going about implementing them so re read the brief, trawl their website for ideas and (if you can) ask the client questions to get more of an insight. When you are preparing your pitch expand on your initial proposal paying special attention to the approach and also include a relevant case study with a similar client and project. In the case study part talk about your approach and the journey you went on.

– Keep the presentation short. If you only have an hour don’t waffle on for ages, aim for 15 – 20 minutes. The client will most likely have a list of questions they want to ask you so leave plenty of time for them.

–  On the day. Don’t bank on there being projectors so have print outs of your slides. Also export your presentation to Keynote, Powerpoint and PDF just in case. Double check where the presentations are going to take place and arrive early. Normally the client will arrange all of the pitches to be on the same day so if you have a later slot expect over runs and that you will have to wait. Also if you are in a late slot expect the client to be a bit tired so try and keep your presentation to the point and lively.

So there you go, not rocket science but I hope you find it useful the next time you respond to a brief from a client.

Good luck!

Goodbye / Hello

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Long time no see! I’m coming to the end of my year long contract at the BFI and I thought I’d break the silence on my blog by publishing a series of posts about our journey with Agile UX.


The headline is that its been a roller coaster of a year with many ups (and a few downs!). But there is a bunch of things that I’m going to take away from my experience here which I’m going to share with you all.


As ever if you would like further info please do get in touch and if you’re looking for some Agile UX magic in your project from October onwards give me a shout!!


Come and listen to me waffle on…

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Hello, I’ve been asked to speak at the next Agile UX Meetup in London on the 18th!

This months meetup is focusing on Agile User Research and I’ll be talking about the true definition of sprint zero from a UX perspective and the whys and wherefores of integrating user research into this stage of the project drawing from my experiences of working at the BFI.

Unfortunately the event is full and there is a lengthy waiting list already but I’ll be putting up my slides and notes here in due course.

Hello world!

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

If you were to search the interwebs for my name you would find numerous half finished attempts by me to start a blog. Most of them suffered from my lack of inspiration for anything interesting to write about and chronic laziness, this new blog will hopefully be different!

Back in July I started a freelance contract at the British Film Institute to help them redevelop their website. We started with ambitious plans to complete a complicated design and build in 9 months while implementing huge sections of new content. We started out from the beginning with a user centred design focus and also decided to introduce Agile into the way we work. Combining the two approaches has been a challenge but I think we’ve made some great progress on this and I wanted to share some of the things that worked (and didn’t work) with the wider world. The blog might be slightly disjointed as I tend to write about things that are most relevant to me at the time but I’ll try and recap on as much as I can. If there’s anything you’d like me to write about or you have any questions feel free to drop me a line.

Looking for UX design and research help with your project? Get in touch