Category Archives: Usability Testing

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.

Free alternative to Silverback/ Morae / Camtasia

By | Usability Testing, User Research | 2 Comments

I was doing some usability testing last week and, due to a glitch on my Macbook Air*, wasn’t able to use my regular screen recording package of choice Silverback.

Time was against me so after a quick bit of Googling I came up with a free alternative to Silverback using some of the built in functionality with OSx namely Quicktime. Now when I say its an alternative to Silverback (and Morae or Camtasia for that matter) there are some draw backs:

  • The first being that while Quicktime can record screen movements and audio it doesn’t do the picture in picture video stuff that Silverback does.
  • The other minor drawback is that Quicktime produces some pretty hefty files before you export them so make sure you’ve got plenty of space on your hard drive.

It really is worth shelling out for Silverback but if you’re stuck (or short on funds) Quicktime does work at a stretch.

Heres how I used Quicktime for recording user testing sessions:

1) Open Quicktime then go to File -> New Screen Recording

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 15.24.17

2) Click the little drop down arrow on the right hand side of the popup window and choose the mic and also ensure that “show mouse clicks” is ticked if you want to emulate the same click effect that Silverback does.

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 15.25.13

3) Hit the red record button!

I do very little video work so this post may well throw up lots of “well, yeah, durr” comments but it was new to me so I hope it helps out someone else in the same predicament. Below is a little demo video I recorded earlier.

Quicktime screen recording demo

*NOTE: The glitch was a plugin problem but I’m also aware that at the time of writing this Silverback doesn’t work with new Macbook Airs or Macbook Pros so Quicktime may also be useful as a short term solution here as well if you’ve not already got a Silverback licence until the next version of Silverback comes out.

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