Remote testing – for hard to reach testers

March 18, 2015

We always recruit our own testers. By doing it ourselves we get more appropriate testers and we can weed out the ones who try to make a career out of being a respondent.

We think we are quite good at this, and most of the time it is not difficult, but sometimes it can be more challenging, for example, we have had to recruit ‘People thinking of starting a business’ and ‘Steam process engineers’ (I can tell you, there are not many of these in the UK), and it’s often not possible to get these testers in to the lab.

There are a number of reasons why this might be the case:

  • Geography: a tester is too far from the lab to drop in for a session
  • Time: a tester doesn’t have the time, often because they are quite senior in their organisation
  • Scheduling: a tester can’t make a specified date for a live observed testing session

So for these testers we need another option – remote testing.

So how does remote testing work?

We use desktop screen sharing software to run a usability testing session. The tester uses their PC in their office, and both the facilitator and the tester see the same screen and share control of the mouse.

Our preferred screen sharing software – – has no complicated software downloads for the tester.  They receive a simple email invitation and just click on the link. This means we can reach testers in companies with strong IT security.

We facilitate the sessions in the usual way, so it is almost as if the tester was sitting right next to us in the lab. We also record the session so it can be viewed by the client.

So, while we still think lab based testing is preferable (you do get batter rapport with testers face-to-face, and it allows real time observation of the sessions), when it is just not feasible our remote testing approach fits the bill well.