Remote Usability Testing: Why You Need It and Top 5 Tips for Conducting It?

Enhance your user experience: Conduct remote usability tests with these top 5 tips.

Reshu Rathi
March 29, 2023
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In the past few years, the research landscape has changed dramatically. As companies continue to embrace the work-from-home lifestyle, more and more research is being done online.  

Did you know that two-thirds of qualitative research globally is now done online? And UX research methods like remote usability testing have become more popular and relevant as people learn how efficient, easy, and powerful it can be to conduct usability testing remotely.

If you haven't already, it is time you embrace remote usability testing. Similar to in-person testing, in remote usability testing also, you choose what to test, write scenarios, follow the script, and so on. The only difference is that in remote testing, the participant and facilitator are in separate locations and physically separated.  

Remote usability testing is becoming increasingly popular, especially given the chaotic schedules most people follow.  Since it's done online, you can engage users from virtually anywhere in the world saving time and costs on commute. Also, there is less overhead involved in running the study, as the participants are taking the tests from the comfort of their home and require only a device and an internet connection. What’s more? As participants interact with your designs in their own environment, the feedback is as close to real life as it gets. But to get good results while conducting remote usability testing, you need to do it effectively.  

Let's look at some helpful tips you can apply while conducting remote usability testing. But before that, let’s first discuss briefly why you need to conduct usability testing remotely.

Why Should You Go for Remote Usability Testing?

Here're a few benefits of conducting usability testing remotely:

1. Wider reach

When conducting remote usability testing, you can recruit participants from anywhere in the world; this gives you access to a more diverse pool of participants with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. And can lead to more representative results and insights.

2. Convenience

Remote usability testing eliminates the need for participants to travel to a specific location, which can be time-consuming, and inconvenient for participants. Since participants can participate in it from the convenience of their homes, it increases the likelihood that they will complete the study.

3. Cost-effectiveness

Conducting remote usability testing can be more cost-effective than traditional in-person testing because it minimizes overhead costs significantly and eliminates the need for a physical testing facility and its associated costs.

4. Flexibility

Remote usability testing allows researchers to conduct tests at any time of the day or night, which can be particularly useful when participants are in different time zones.

5. Better Data Quality

Remote testing can capture more detailed data about user behavior and preferences. Especially if you use AI-powered testing tools, you can even capture their subconscious preferences  

In short, remote usability testing offers several advantages, making it a crucial tool for researchers looking to gain insights into user behavior and preferences.

Top Tips for Remote Usability Testing

1. Keep Your Test Short and Use Simple Language

When conducting usability testing remotely, always keep your tasks short, particularly in unmoderated studies where there is no moderator to guide participants through the tasks. Also, define the scope of the study and keep it focused.

When crafting the tasks, use simple language with clear-cut instructions. And limit the number of tasks to a maximum of five to reduce the possibility of user error and ensure higher completion rates.  

Finally, stay flexible because unforeseen issues may arise no matter how much you plan, so it's crucial to remain open to unexpected feedback and adjust accordingly.

2. Run a Pilot Test Before the Session

Performing a dry run before conducting a usability test is essential for a successful outcome. This way, you can identify any significant problems with your test design and ensure that everything works well during the actual usability session with the test participant.

To simulate the real session, invite a few stakeholders to participate in the dry run and follow the steps and procedures as you would during the actual usability session. This will help you become familiar with the test every step of the way from the point of view of the participant.  

Additionally, it's a good idea to time the session and analyze how long each task takes, so you can determine if any tasks need to be reframed or removed to keep the session within the desired time. By running a pilot test before conducting a usability test, you can ensure that your sessions run smoothly and can save time and money overall.  

Here are a few questions to consider while you run pilot usability tests:

  • Do the participants understand what you're asking them to do?  
  • Are the tasks framed in a leading manner to sway the participant toward a specific answer?  
  • Are your tasks designed to elicit the kind of feedback you require?  
  • Are any of the questions or tasks repetitive or unnecessary?  
  • Can the tasks be completed? Or are certain screens, states, or interactions missing?

3. Keep a Backup Plan Ready

During a remote usability test, not everything will go according to plan. There may be technical issues, or users may get confused, which could derail the testing process. You must be prepared for these potential roadblocks to ensure your remote usability session runs smoothly. And to do that, it is essential to have a backup plan.


Though these worst-case scenarios may not happen in most cases, it's crucial to have a written contingency plan as it can help you navigate unexpected problems. For instance, if your users are not familiar with the tech tools you are using, you should have a written plan or steps you can use to guide them through the process. This could include providing instructions on how to join the video call, share their screen, and unmute themselves during the remote usability test.

4. Build a Rapport with Your Users at the Starting

The main goal of usability testing is to get genuine feedback from your target. And if you are conducting a moderated remote usability test, you need to build a rapport with your users and make them feel comfortable from the start. Once you've established a rapport with your users, they'll feel more open to sharing their thoughts.  

So, when conducting a remote usability testing session, remember it isn't about giving users several tasks and asking them questions. Rather, remote usability testing is also about getting to know your users.

An effective way to build a rapport with your users is to start the session as you would a conversation. For instance, you could simply ask them how they are doing or if they are comfortable. After that, you can also make the question more specific by anchoring it on a particular aspect of their life. For example, if your user is a project manager, you can ask, "What's the most challenging part of managing a project?” You get the drift.

Also, during the session, you can ask your users how they're finding the test and whether they have any questions.

5. Choose the Right Tool for Remote Usability Testing

Selecting the right tool for remote usability testing is crucial. It will ensure the testing process runs smoothly and effectively, leading to reliable data and insights that can inform product improvements.

The right tool should provide reliable and accurate data while also being user-friendly and accessible for both the testers and the users. It should allow for easy task creation, user recruitment, and data collection and provide features for screen recording, video conferencing, and real-time collaboration.  

Instead of wasting time trying different remote user testing tools, you can give Affect UX a try. Affect UX is an AI-powered user research platform that lets you quickly run remote usability testing sessions and get actionable, unbiased user insights.

Wrapping Up

Conducting usability testing effectively is crucial to building successful products, and by following these remote usability testing tips, you can ensure that you are on the right track.


Supercharge your research with actionable insights faster on Decode's integrated consumer research platform with Insights AI.
Want to conduct lean and unbiased research? Try out Entropik's tech behavioral research platform today!
Want to conduct lean and unbiased research? Try out Entropik's tech behavioral research platform today!
Want to conduct lean and unbiased research? Try out Entropik's tech behavioral research platform today!
Build the Right Products, the Right Way: Elevate your UX with Qatalyst's integrated user research platform with Insights AI.


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Author Bio

Reshu Rathi
Reshu Rathi is an online marketing and conversion rate enthusiast. She specializes in content marketing, lead generation, and engagement strategy. Her byline can be found all over the web

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