16 expert tips on remote UX research

Our awesome research team reveals their very own personal expert tips for running remote user research.

Whether you’re a newbie to the world of remote research and testing, or if you’re a seasoned pro looking for some trade secrets, our team delve into how you can deal with the myriad of inevitable technical issues, the importance of organization and basically how to let your natural people skills shine across video conferencing software WHILE juggling technology AND delivering valuable UX insights.

The following video contains the highlights, however there’s even more in-depth guidance from the team in the article below…

1) Organization is key

I would just say at its core, organization is key. Whether you’re setting up a study or transitioning to working remote instead of being in an office, it’s helpful to have some kind of rough structure to follow, so that you’re not totally lost. So if you can have your day structured with, “Okay. I’ve got these meetings, but I’m gonna fill the rest of my time with blah, take breaks here, etc” That’s always gonna be helpful.

And if you’re new to remote research, you’re gonna have to think about all these extra steps that you’re adding in, and it could be helpful to have those laid out. You’ll then have a quick reference guide, tailored to your own needs, on what to be prepared for when getting set up with remote research for the first time.

Caroline Garner, Sr UX Researcher

2) Allow your people skills to shine while juggling technology

I think that it’s not so much the implementation of your practices, your expertise, but the learning curve is in your comfort level with being able to employ all of these things while having that mediated through technology. So, I think that lots of researchers are natural ‘people’ people, they naturally ask good questions, but I think that the learning curve is allowing that to shine while you’re juggling a few other technological things at the same time.

Julie Strubel, User Researcher and Strategist

3) Pay for the best possible internet connection

There are a host of technical obstacles that you really, really need to pay attention to because it can interfere with your sessions, it can interfere with your data collection. I would say probably at the top of the list would be pay really close attention to your network.

I personally, for the last eight years that I’ve been remote, have paid extra for a business connection from the cable company and that often provides a more reliable upload/download and you get a better response from the cable company should your cable go down.

Other little tips and tricks that I’ve learned over the years is at the start of every day, unplug your modem, unplug your router, plug them back in, just to reset everything. It never hurts and a lot of time it can reduce any interference issues you have.

Also, you might want to restart your computer in-between each session. Limit the number of other applications that you have running in the background. Things that people forget about sometimes are, if you have some sort of cloud file-syncing going on in the background, that can chew up a lot of your bandwidth sometimes.

John Romadka, Senior Manager, UX Research

4) Good audio is really important
5) Buy noise cancelling headphones
6) Get a good quality microphone

Audio is really important. Poor audio is really a killer. If you can’t hear the pronunciations of things, you have to ask for them to repeat themselves. And so a good pair of noise-canceling headphones, if you can get them. Make sure you have a good quality mic.

John Romadka, Senior Manager, UX Research

7) Pay attention to your lighting

I go out of my way to make sure that I have good lighting from several different sources so that my person is distinguished from the background. Pay attention to what’s in the background. Don’t make them squint or be in shadow. Don’t have a big bright window behind you. Think of it as if you’re on stage.

John Romadka, Senior Manager, UX Research

8) Position your webcam to one side

With remote research, it’s a bit more difficult to make it friendly, to build rapport with a participant. So I think one thing that helps a lot is positioning your laptop camera towards one side, more or less at 90 degrees. That, I think, helps a lot with making it less confrontational, less like a job interview, more like an informal conversation between two people. I think that’s something that I always do now and it helps a lot.

AJ Justo, Senior UX Researcher

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