Remote automated user research techniques have been established as a valid complement (and in many cases as an alternative) to more traditional techniques. All of them share the following advantages compared to on-site techniques of user research:
- They make it possible to perform quantitative studies. They involve a larger number of participants with lower recruitment costs. In addition, they reduce the time required for the field phase.
- They are especially recommended when our sample is scattered in different locations and when it’s impossible to bring the participants together in one place to conduct the study in person.
There are numerous platforms for carrying out automated remote studies. Each one offers a different set of techniques. Among the best known are: UserZoom (the most complete), Usertesting, Loop 11 and Optimal Workshop.
There are several remote user research techniques available. It’s important to know them in detail in order to be able to choose the most suitable one based on our objectives and to benefit the most from our research.
Below, we describe the five most used remote user research techniques:
A task-based study is one of the remote techniques of usability and user research that can be best compared to conventional task-based studies performed in a laboratory.
During a task-based study, participants are asked to perform a series of tasks on the web that we want to explore.
Once the task is completed, they are given questions about their experience throughout the study. Questions are also asked about their satisfaction with the website.
Each session is recorded on video and audio for further qualitative analysis.
The major advantage of task-based studies is their ability to adapt to the diverse needs of each development phase. This is mainly because they allow both qualitative and quantitative data to be collected at the same time:
- When only prototypes are available, they allow us to validate our interaction model. They also help us to detect usability problems at an early stage.
- On a live website, they allow us to collect quantitative data on the efficiency and effectiveness of the site. Additionally, we can research usability problems.
In order to do so, task-based studies can be conducted throughout the development cycle, with interactive prototypes, html models and live websites.
Traditional card sorting techniques require a certain amount of effort in processing and analyzing research data. Conversely, remote card sorting makes it possible to automate the analysis, thereby saving time and resources.
Card sorting techniques are used when generating a new way of organizing the content of our website. They are also used to improve a new or an existing architecture proposal.
In detail, they serve to explore what the mental model is of users when organizing content. They help us to understand which terms may be more intuitive. This way, we’ll be able to build our navigation menu more efficiently.
Card sorting is just one of the techniques we use at TeaCup Lab to research the user experience of our clients. In our User Research section you can find all the details about card sorting.
Tree testing is a very useful complement to card sorting, especially when our architecture is very complex and we need to assess the organization of different levels of content at the same time.
Additionally, it’s a type of study that requires very short preparation times and less effort on the part of the participants.
In this type of study, participants are not asked to organize a series of content in the most logical way for them. In tree testing, participants must find content within a tree navigation structure. To do this, they have to select each category and discover its content.
In doing so, we can validate a more fully defined information architecture approach.
Tree testing platforms, in addition to capturing user response and time spent, allow us to discover which navigation paths were used.
At TeaCup Lab, we often use tree testing studies to complement the data from a card sorting.
Click tests is a simple technique that requires minimal preparation. It can be performed as part of a more complex study, or on an individual basis.
It consists of presenting the participant with a screenshot of our website and asking them to click on the area where they would go to look for certain content. The data of the various users are presented in aggregated form on a heat map.
Click tests can quickly validate if the location, content and visual aspect of the elements of a website allow users to intuitively find what they are looking for.
At TeaCup Lab, we perform click tests on final designs before coding the html, or on a website that’s already been published.
Unlike the other techniques described, true intent is not carried out with recruited participants, but with real users during a real visit to a website.
During a study, true intent asks real users of a website at the beginning of their visit if they are willing to answer a few questions about their experience once they have finished. At the end, they are given a questionnaire that will analyze the reasons for their visit, the problems they may have had during the visit and their satisfaction.
At Teacup Lab, we conduct true intent studies to collect quantitative and qualitative data on the experience of real users on a website. In doing so, we detect possible areas of improvement and the reasons for their conduct during the visit.
Remote user research techniques are used to validate a wide range of aspects related to user experience, such as usability, content architecture, satisfaction, menus and visual appearance of a page.
In order to choose the right technique, it’s important to have clear objectives. We must also consider where we are in the development cycle.