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Benefits of Moderated Remote Usability Testing versus Unmoderated Testing

Portrait Felipe Restrepo
Felipe Restrepo
6 min read

Let’s explore the differences between the two methods of testing, and which is best for your project. Understanding the benefits of both, as well as the potential drawbacks, will help you get the most out of your project.

The Value of Usability Testing

Testing your product throughout the various stages of development is an important part of the process. There are several benefits of testing, helping to produce the best product possible.

Benefits of Usability Testing

Whether you’re building a complex accounting product, or a team communication platform, all SaaS products can benefit from testing in the following ways.

  • Catch bugs, errors, and gaps early on in the development phase
  • Empower developers to write better code
  • Contribute to documentation
  • Feel confident when making changes as customer demands increase
  • Reduce time and effort spent on manual testing
  • Improve team performance and overall production quality

While the functionality of your product is important, the emotions of your users are also crucial for creating meaningful experiences. Connecting with your users in a significant way will boost engagement and testing with empathy offers multiple benefits.

Considerations of Usability Testing

Regardless of your testing method, it’s important to prepare in advance. Keep the following in mind to make the most of your testing phase.

  • Run the tests early, and in regular increments
  • Incorporate a basic screening procedure for participants
  • Determine your evaluation metrics such as error rate, satisfaction rate, etc
  • Structure the data for analysis

Remote Moderated Usability Testing

Traditional moderated usability testing is a technique that involves the active participation of a trained facilitator or moderator to gauge UX design and how the user responds to your product. Usually, these testing processes involve modern testing tools and are conducted in a UX lab or in a corporate setting.

**Remote moderated usability testing follows the same principles as the traditional method, but the participant and facilitator are in two different physical locations. **

Both participant and facilitator use an online platform at the same time. The facilitator is able to watch the user complete the tasks and communicate in real-time. Various remote conferencing tools allow the moderator and participant to connect in a meaningful way, from the comfort of their own homes.

Benefits of Remote Moderated Usability Testing

Moderated testing is especially useful for collecting qualitative feedback.

Moderated usability testing is effective when assessing user emotions and their experience with the product. Consider the following benefits as a starting point.

  • Detailed findings as guided by an intuitive facilitator
  • Saves money and time on travel for facilitators and participants
  • Recruiting benefit
  • Reduced distraction for participants
  • Increased flexibility

Having a facilitator present during the testing creates a dynamic environment and presents opportunistic insights. For example, facilitators can address any challenges or questions that the user experiences during the session.

They can also determine quality, detailed findings based on nuanced expressions. Understanding the basics of an aesthetic service or product in connection with emotion all plays a part in the emotional design, and how the user responds.

Considerations with Moderated Remote Usability Testing

For the test to be productive and effective, certain factors need to be considered. Keep the following in mind during a remote moderated usability testing session to ensure that you bypass any hiccups and streamline the process.

  • Facilitators need to be available
  • Moderators may influence or disrupt the completion or outcome of the task
  • Can be more expensive and take more time
  • Advanced time and planning is needed to set up meeting software

Tips for Remote Moderated Usability Testing

Planning ahead is an essential step to get the most out of remote moderated usability testing. A little bit of preparation can go a long way in making sure that everything goes smoothly, and that expenses are reduced.

Consider the following tips when preparing for remote moderated usability testing, especially before starting the video conference user interview.

  • Prepare pre-session questions to find out about the demographics of your participant
  • Select your tasks according to the main goal of the testing
  • Research the best platform for your usability test
  • Test the platform’s functionality before the appointment
  • Encourage participants to think out loud during the process
  • Take notes during the testing
  • Present the results in a report
  • Recruit more users in case of a no-show

Unmoderated Usability Testing

Unmoderated usability testing serves a similar purpose of testing specific parts of a product, but the testing is completed without a moderator. Normally, this method of testing focuses on certain aspects of the product rather than the holistic user journey.

Without a moderator present to ask probing questions and gauge minor responses, unmoderated testing is best suited for quantitative data.

Benefits of Unmoderated Testing

There are notable benefits of unmoderated testing, which is why the method continues to be an active part of the development process. Consider the following as a starting point.

  • Quicker than moderated testing which is useful for projects with time constraints
  • Easy to orchestrate
  • Less chance for bias prompted by the observer-expectancy effect
  • More affordable and better suited for tighter budgets

Considerations with Unmoderated Testing

While unmoderated testing can be more streamlined and affordable, there are a few missing perks that come with moderated testing. Overall, the process is less thorough and not as suited for qualitative testing.

Keep the following considerations in mind when organizing unmoderated testing.

  • Loss of substantial insights gathered by a facilitator
  • Lack of real-time support to answer questions
  • Quieter than moderated tests, losing out on potential insights
  • Users may get distracted
  • Not suitable for long and complex tasks
  • No direct opportunity to ask follow up questions

Most importantly, the opportunity to ask probing questions is voided without the facilitator offering detailed insight. The role of the facilitator is really important as they help to answer questions and provide motivation for the respondents.

Tips for Unmoderated Usability Testing

Although it's more difficult to monitor emotional responses to the product, unmoderated usability tests can still serve a purpose. Make sure that you consider the following tips when preparing for this method.

  • Create simple tasks with clear instruction
  • Plan to contact the user after the test for more qualitative insights
  • Invite more participants than needed to prepare for no-shows
  • Test your usability test before inviting actual participants

Effective Moderated Usability Testing

At the end of the day, the best testing method will depend on what type of data you want to gather. The two methods are complementary and both qualitative and quantitative data are needed to produce a successful product. Whichever method you choose to pursue, it’s important to make it an iterative process.

At Odaptos, we offer a specialized platform in automated user testing. Using our expertise, we design and market a SaaS product to perform usability testing in videoconferencing, analyzing human emotions, and providing detailed results and insights.

Adopting a moderated usability testing approach is essential if you want to understand the true impact that your product has on end-users. Get started with Odaptos today, and get to the heart of your user’s experience.