03 July 2009

Remote user testing for web sites

Mashable features UserTesting.com, a service that recruits people to test your web pages, records the session and then presents back a video of the tests, with the user's voice over of their experience etc. The service is billed as rapid and low cost.

Clever idea, in principle. Far better than no testing at all. In practice I wonder who they're recruiting for those tests, and at the lost opportunity for interaction between designer or usability practitioner and user in test sessions (imo user-testing doesn't need to be so clinical, but I know there is comfort for some in seeing it as 'scientific').

The example shown on UserTesting's site is a person planning a visit to Waikiki using TripAdvisor. Well chosen: TripAdvisor is such a mine of useful information but so frustrating to use. The participant in the test video is remarkably patient (possibly another pitfall of the task set up - users in their own context may well have abandoned their search rather than persevering for the length of the test session).

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