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It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Usability Testing in all its forms: live or remote, moderated or not. And though there are lots of options for running and recording usability tests on desktop websites, options for testing on mobile devices are limited.

So when I received an email announcing that UserTesting.com now offers remote usability testing on mobile devices, I was thrilled. (Bear in mind, UX methodology doesn’t change much over time; it’s not often that useful new tools come out.)

How does it work?

UserTesting.com now has a stable of testers with mobile devices and high-res cameras on stands. So you can watch test subjects use their mobile device as they visit your mobile website or app.

Setting up the tests is a snap. First you select the type of mobile device you wish to test on:

  • iPhone
  • Android
  • Blackberry
  • iPad

Then you indicate what you’ll be testing:

  • Mobile website (in which case, just provide the URL)
  • App in a store (in which case, provide the name of the app and installation instructions)
  • App not yet released (in which case, help from usertesting.com’s support team is needed)

From there, it’s just like any other test on usertesting.com. (See my previous review.) You provide the scenario and tasks, plus any questions you want to ask the participants after they’re completed the test.

What do you get?

The deliverable is similar to that of desktop sites: a video of the user interacting with your site/app, including their voice, plus written responses to your questions. As you can see, it’s rather like looking over the user’s shoulder:



What are the downsides?

I don’t think there are any true downsides, just the same limitations that apply to using this service on desktop websites:

  • Tests must be kept short (under 20 minutes or so) with a limited number of tasks and scenarios.*
  • As there’s no moderator, you can’t control the test in progress or ask live follow-up questions.
  • Test subjects are web-savvy and may not accurately represent your typical customers.

Still, when you consider the positives – how fast, easy and cheap it is, and how likely you’ll gain valuable insights – there’s no reason not to use this service. At just $39 per test, it’s a bargain.

This is a most welcome addition to the UX practitioner’s toolbox.
 

* Though not advertised on the website, it is possible to run longer tests at additional cost. Contact customer service for details.
 

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