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Usability testing apps and websites in real-world, interactive environments.

Field usability testing: Why do it?

Taking testing out of the lab and into real-life situations can sometimes offer additional insights into user goals and behaviours. This kind of testing works best when:

  • The website or app would naturally be used in a specific environment, e.g. an instore shopping app
  • The website or app will only be used in specific environments or at specific times, e.g. an interactive sports app for use during live matches
  • It is important to see how users will interact with the app or website and their environment at the same time, e.g. holding the device while carrying a shopping basket
  • Any basic usability issues with the app have already been identified, either in normal usability testing or in our Living room lab

How we do it

Although this kind of testing requires a different approach to normal lab-based usability, we aim to retain the key values from our moderated testing process to ensure that the client gets the most value possible:

  • We observe and record users’ behaviours – ‘what they do’ rather than ‘what they say’, which can be quite different
  • We dig deep to better understand users’ goals better – often we want a tester to explore a site or app in line with their own interests
  • We probe when testers do things you don’t anticipate; they also do things and it’s not clear why
  • We guide (if necessary) so we can get the insights needed

Each project follows the following rough structure:

  • Project preparation – We work with you to plan the research, so you get the right solution – not an ‘off the shelf’ one. We are very flexible in our approach to ensure you feel you are getting value for money.
  • Testers and Recruitment – we conduct all our recruitment in house. We believe this allows us to recruit more accurately to your specification, provide greater flexibility, and treat testers in a decent and ethical way. Our tester no-show rate is less than 1% (normal market research no-show rates are about 10%).
  • Usability testing – In the field, testing is very bespoke to each project. Examples of field research we have undertaken:
    • Supermarket self-checkout behaviours using eye-tracking glasses to record what users see and do in a real-world environment
    • Home décor discovery and usability testing in testers’ living rooms, recorded using a pop-up usability lab

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