Mobile Remote Moderated UX Testing


Remote app testing

Especially for target groups that are hard to reach, such as hospital doctors or people with disabilities, as well as for generally busy or geographically distant people, a remote study setting is a good option. Especially now, in the middle of corona crisis, where people can no longer come to the test laboratory on site, online tests have become a viable alternative.

Apart from standard UX tests on the desktop PC, mobile apps on the smartphone can also be tested without the test person and tester being physically together in one room. For this purpose, there are various tools that enable a moderated user test on the smartphone via the Internet. In addition to live websites and apps, prototypes such as those in InVision, Flinto or Axure can also be tested in order to receive early feedback. The advantage of the moderated version of the remote usability test is that the user experience expert can communicate with the test subject and ask questions if necessary.

Participants only need their smartphone and a stable internet connection

In order to participate in a remote mobile study, the test participants need their smartphone and an app for screen sharing and recording (for iOS or Android). The app transmits both the smartphone screen and the front camera of the participants. This way, the facilitator can see how the participants use a website or app on their smartphone. In addition, emotions and facial expressions can be observed via the mobile phone camera. The participants can move freely in their real environment. Communication takes place via the speakerphone function of the smartphone or via a connected headset.

We have made good experiences with the Lookback tool, as it allows us to share the participant's screen, camera and sound (see article picture). If there is no access to Lookback, Zoom can also be used, for example. With Zoom, however, the participant's camera is only transmitted if the smartphone screen is not shared. Study observers can access both Lookback and Zoom directly during the interview from their workplace and observe the test. Both tools offer a recording function, which allows the tests to be viewed afterwards.

What to consider

As we at Facit Digital have already had a lot of experience with moderated remote studies of smartphone applications, you will find some practical tips here, which hopefully will save you from one or two unwanted surprises:

  • Make sure that your study participants have an updated operating system installed on their smartphone. You can find the requirements on the websites of the tool providers or directly in the app store. If the operating system is too old, for example, the screen sharing might not work.
  • Ask your participants to clean up their browser and close their private data on their smartphone. Since participants use their own devices, private content may otherwise be transferred, which could make participants uncomfortable.
  • Similarly, it's a good idea for participants to disable push notifications for the duration of the interview, as the preview of chat messages, for example, would be seen in the transmission and recording.
  • Also, if possible, ask your participants to use a headset. They can also communicate using speakerphone, but this often results in a distracting reverb effect.
  • Because video streaming consumes a lot of battery power, participants should also keep their phones fully charged and the charging cable within reach.

Michael Wörmann

Moritz Flues

Moritz is especially interested in ethnographic research approaches that focus on the users' context of use. He sees the observation and questioning of individual behaviour as a central aspect of user experience research.