In our new blog series “Testing Insights”, we want to provide you with a better understanding and deep dive into the world of Crowdtesting.
That’s why we want to let our project managers and crowd managers lend their voices and tell you more about their work.
Today we start with Dr. Anna Renner, one of our project managers and an expert on UX and usability.
We talked about the current situation and how remote testing impacts UX and usability testing in this challenging time.
TB: Hi Anna, how are you?
Anna: I’m fine, thanks. Well, to be perfectly honest, I’m struggling a little bit with balancing the demands of working in home office and looking after my son – I guess that’s what a lot of parents are experiencing right now. But overall, I’m really glad that it’s going so well with working from home, doing projects and conducting tests pretty much as usual.
TB: Glad to hear that! Could you tell us a little about yourself and the journey that brought you to Testbirds?
Anna: My background is in cognitive/experimental psychology. After my studies at the University of Amsterdam, I did a PhD at the Humboldt-University in Berlin. During my PhD, I started to work as a UX researcher for two usability agencies in Berlin and I found that I really like applying my knowledge in a more practical way. For me, it feels great to see an immediate impact.
After working as an e-learning author and completing a training program for UX professionals in Berlin, I started working as a UX Researcher at Testbirds two years ago. I really appreciate the organizational principles and core values of Testbirds, especially the self-organized and self-responsible way of working as well as the positive and cooperative atmosphere among colleagues. The enthusiasm and expertise of my colleagues not only creates value for our clients but especially for me and my personal development.
TB: What is exciting or challenging about your current job role?
Anna: As a Project Manager and UX Researcher at Testbirds, you have a lot of responsibility right from the start, usually dealing with several challenging projects at the same time. No project is like the other. What I particularly enjoy is consulting our clients or our sales team on the most suitable testing approach, matching client needs and research questions.
TB: The world is experiencing unprecedented changes after the spread of coronavirus. What does this mean for usability & UX testing as well as your daily work?
Anna: Luckily, the remote nature of our testing services allows us to continue to work pretty much as usual. We can all work from home without problems or limitations. Actually, home office is something we’ve always been able to do – before the pandemic as well.
Generally speaking, the impact of the crisis is difficult to predict, but I’m convinced that the pandemic will accelerate the pace of digital transformation. In the current situation, there are more people working from home than ever before and I also expect increased levels of meetings and conferences held online, even after the crisis ends. People are seeing that this kind of online collaboration actually works quite well. Therefore, they might stick to the new routines that are being developed right now.
For product development and UX teams, this is the chance to explore remote usability testing in order to adjust to current and future disruptions of lab testing. As mentioned, I’ve worked as a UX researcher in an agency before, where we did classic usability tests in a lab setting – and I must say, I don’t see any significant advantages of lab over remote testing. There are a few, mostly minor, pros and cons to each approach depending on your individual scenario, but in general, I consider the two options as equal in terms of outcome.
TB: What is remote UX testing?
Anna: 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 like the ones offered by us. This also means that there are no restrictions in terms of where you or your users are located.
TB: In a practical sense, what are some use cases where remote UX testing can be helpful?
Anna: The main advantage of remote testing compared to lab testing is that it generally makes it much quicker to recruit participants and turn tests around. Especially, if the target audience is geographically dispersed, making travel for them or the UX professionals difficult, remote testing gives you the great opportunity to conduct the test easily without the need to travel.
Besides that, the catchment area of a lab test is much smaller and usually biased towards the population of bigger cities where your UX lab is located.
The wide range of possible devices to test on remotely is another advantage, as well as the flexibility remote tests offer for agile testing. Finally, budget constraints can also make remote testing the more attractive option.
I especially like our Remote UX Interview service. Depending on client needs, it can take on different forms. You can either conduct pure interviews, i.e. gathering information on user needs and preferences by asking questions or you conduct a usability test to observe the actual user’s behavior through screen sharing – normally, we ask our testers to use a webcam, so you can see their facial expressions. Qualitative and quantitative forms are possible. It’s a method that offers a huge amount of valuable insights in each phase of the human-centred design process.
TB: What do you personally find essential about testing?
Anna: I am, naturally, a big fan of iterative testing. But it’s already so much better to conduct one usability test than no test at all. Because even with just one test, you’ll know so much more about your users and the fit of your product than before. After a first test, you will probably want to conduct more tests. It’s a known fact that each cent invested in user testing pays off more than twice in the long run. Obviously, it’s better to find out about usability problems or mismatches with user needs in early product development phases than after go-live. But tests need to be designed in the right way, because wrong data is worse than no data. Asking questions in the wrong way or to the wrong target group can lead down the wrong track.
TB: Thank you very much for this insightful interview, Anna!
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As a cognitive psychologist and UX-enthusiast Anna gets to the bottom of users’ needs. She speaks five languages and has lived in several big cities worldwide.