Carmen 31, is a business analyst intern at Clear Trip Inc. She works on their eCommerce website that sells flights, hotels and holidays. She is looking to adopt remote usability testing to get feedback from customers so the company can understand the customer’s online buying experience.   This is the first time she has embarked on the journey of remote usability testing. Let’s follow her thought process to understand how she organized herself and launched a successful user feedback session.


What is a remote usability test?

Carmen searched for remote usability testing on Google. She finds a US government initiative spreading knowledge about usability.   Remote usability testing allows you to conduct user research with participants in their natural environment by employing screen-sharing software or online remote usability vendor services.  In general, tests should be about 15–30 minutes long made up of about 3-5 tasks.   Reference:

What are the advantages of remote usability testing?

At Clear Trip Inc, Carmen doesn’t have the traditional usability lab infrastructure. Well she thinks that with the recent technology advancements there cannot be constrains. There should be services offered in the software-as-a-service model (SaaS). She checks and understands the benefits of remote usability testing which follow.

  • Possibly companies don’t have their own usability test lab infrastructure
  • Eliminates both the need for a lab environment and the effect of a lab environment on participants
  • Accommodates diverse groups of participants
  • Far less expensive than a traditional in-person lab testing
  • In the case of un-moderated testing, allows you to extend your test day, possibly allowing you access to a larger pool of participants
  • It is an opportunity to administer the test a larger group of people than you might be able to accommodate in a lab environment
  • Recorded session can be shared as a video with team members

Check out: Remote usability testing


How do I pick the right participants for the test?

Carmen finds out from her marketing and sales teams about customer profiles. She finds out that customers come from all over Spanish speaking countries (Spain, Chile, Mexico, Colombia etc.).

  • She gets demographics data like age, gender, income range and languages spoken.
  • She also gets information about technology familiarity, usage and comfort.
  • She also finds from her research that psychographics of the customers are important as well. Factors like interests, attitudes, opinions, motivations and emotions influence behaviour.
  • She also finds out that physical and social environment also influences behaviour.

After collecting information about all the above factors, she decides selecting test participants with the above demographic, psychographic, technological and environmental profiles. Thus ensuring relevancy and accuracy of results.

How many participants do I need to get feedback?

Carmen does some research online and finds that 5-10 participants per test is necessary to get valid feedback. But the scope of the test itself needs to be defined. More tests across different product areas reveal more issues and suggest improvements.  


Can I not test everything in one attempt? Is one usability test enough?


Typically an application or website has many features and functionality which translate into few hundred end-user tasks or journeys. Some examples follow.

  • Find flight tickets from Madrid to London
  • Understanding the price and its breakdown
  • Ordering the desired flight
  • Making payments for the flight
  • How do customers decide on a flight of choice?
  • Is the information provided clear?

  Carmen understands that determining the key journeys based on business requirements is important. So she prioritizes based on ROI and business drivers. She understands focus is important to get results. Once the low hanging fruits are addressed then other aspects can be corrected. She also understands the benefit of doing more tests to cover many parts of the application or software or product.


What to expect from usability testing?

Carmen set out to find what to really expect as outcome from usability testing. On her research and conversation with user experience experts she found the following.

  • A usability test provides direct end-user experience feedback based on the tasks that have been created for the test. Test participants go through the user journeys requested of them in form of tasks. They also talk about what they are doing, why they are doing certain things, what they like, what they don’t like and their suggestions.


  • A usability test report by experts provides details of what is good, what is bad, how to improve and what are the most important things to fix. Broadly the report focuses on following areas.


  • Navigation:
    • How do end-users move from screen to screen to find relevant information and accomplish their tasks?
    • How do they go back to the screen they started?
    • How can they exit the application?
  • Content:
    • How to write for the web or mobile?
    • Is the content engaging?
    • Is the language clear, user friendly and grammatically correct?
    • Content format: video vs. image vs. text
  • Presentation
    • What is the best and most engaging way to present the business and its content?
    • What layout is appropriate?
    • Is the visual design appropriate?
    • Are the icons, images, colours and branding appropriate?
  • Interaction
    • How end-users interact with the product?
    • Should it be a tap, pinch, swipe or click?
    • Should it be a radio button or checkbox?
    • Can multiple steps be combined or separated to make it clear?
  • Emotions
    • Is the application or product persuasive?
    • Does having real customer reviews about products persuade people to purchase?
    • Does having PayPal image help to build trust in online payments?
    • Does gamification help to keep the application challenging?

   Take advantage of usability testing. You can get feedback our database of real users who mimic your customers or probably are already your customers. You can test and get feedback in the following phases: requirements phase, design phase, development phase and testing phase. You can build applications that will continue to delight your customers. “As hilarious as Carmen’s words: In the end an application has to be usable. It doesn’t matter if the developers, Homer Simpson and you find it usable. Your target customer shouldn’t be confused and need to find it intuitive.”

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User Experience SL 2021