Practicing User Experience research during COVID-19

Practicing User Experience  research during COVID-19

Current state of events during COVID-19

Let’s just all face the facts here. We are living in some of the craziest times of our lives. I grew up hearing the stories about the “Black Death” and the “Spanish Flu”. We just had a near recent run-in with Ebola. But I think deep down these still felt like stories. Until it happened and COVID-19 hit. Now we are being forced to rethink just about everything we take for granted. That includes how we conduct user research. So can we continue to practice User Experience research during COVID-19?

Online options for User Experience research and testing

Recruiting participants for a study is never that easy. Most people love to help but once they hear the word “study” then it’s a different ball game. So how do you continue to practice User Experience research during COVID-19? Many online resources exist to help with this part of the process, services like Ethnio and User Interviews can do the groundwork for you. So you don’t get stuck posting the weird ad on Craigslist in the “jobs” section. Just keep in mind that these services come with a premium so just be prepared for that.

Group conducting user testing.
Group conducting user testing.

Unmoderated remote User Experience testing

The debate over in-person versus remote testing will continue, either option is ok. It’s less awkward to do it remotely, and the unmoderated testing completely frees you from pitfalls of moderating a user testing session. But I also feel like it may introduce more errors if you are not there to course correct a user if they go off-task. For remote unmoderated testing, I have experimented with Validately. It was a great option for conducting unmoderated testing but I did notice some not so great outcomes with a few users I tested.

The future of usability testing

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought an unprecedented shift to just about every industry: retail, food, transportation, the film industry, and just about every type of industry in between have been affected in some way by the pandemic. We will need to rethink how to move forward. How to continue to innovate in ways that we never thought of before.

Are we truly prepared for a global economy with an emphasis on remote interaction?

There is already a new demand for products and services that work well and that deliver value remotely and safely. As User Experience designers and researchers we have been tasked with helping the world transition in this new time of uncertainty.

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About the author

Jan Morris

I am what some would call a "jack of all trades. I enjoy all forms of creative expression, I believe everyone has a story to tell and it is all worth listening to. My true passion lies the pursuit of creative knowledge and understanding.

For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return. -Leonardo da Vinci

Also published on Medium.

Jan Morris a "Jack of all trades" worked with small with businesses, start-ups, Fortune 500 companies, and globally renowned industry leaders. His skills include Photography and Photo Editing, Web Design and Development, Video Production and Editing, Branding and Identity Design, and digital design deliverables.