When it comes to types of user research, you’ll hear a lot of people out there who will swear by the use of user research labs.
Undoubtedly, user research labs have their advantages, often being able to provide a wide range of insights into user behaviours and giving moderators an insight into their opinions on certain aspects.
However, the equipment needed to fully kit out these labs can be costly and can result in users feeling uncomfortable, which can alter the results compared to those you might get in a natural environment.
These two factors alone make user research labs an unfeasible option for most brands looking to do user research. So, when it comes to user research methods, we at connective3 firmly believe that remote user research sessions are a much more cost-effective and efficient way of doing research going forward.
What is user research?
For those asking what is user research, it’s the process of understanding user behaviours, needs, wants, and motivations. This is typically done through observation, tasks, questions, and a variety of other techniques designed to give researchers feedback.
There are many types of user research out there that you can make use of, but user research labs and remote user research are the most common.
To help you make use of remote user research in your own work, we’re breaking down why we think it’s the best out of all user research methods out there.
Users always feel more at ease in the comfort of their own home
No matter the number of fancy sofas and cushions that you get for your user lab, users are always going to know it’s a lab. The last thing you want for a user research technique is to have your user responses altered by the environment.
On top of a lab environment, users likely also have to commute to get to you, adding in a stressful situation where they are hoping that they don’t get lost and are therefore late.
By hosting all of your research sessions remotely, you eliminate these potential issues, and you know from the start that the user is going to feel as comfortable as they possibly can during the session.
In one of our recent market research studies, we asked a user to carry out research for an upcoming holiday and show us what their typical process would be. The user completed this task, but then explained they would then hand it off to their partner so that they could input and then make a final decision.
As we were conducting this session remotely, we were able to ask their partner to then demonstrate their part in the research process, which provided us with invaluable insight into the whole overall process, rather than just one side of it.
This opened our eyes to the wide variety of research that we could then go on to do, all thanks to the users being based within their own homes.
Replicating at-home technology in a lab can be difficult
Another reason why remote user research is one of the best user research methods is for the simple fact that you don’t have to simulate an environment.
Again, to make research sessions as accurate as possible, users need to be using technology that they’re familiar with. In the past, it’s often been believed that if a user is an android user, then they will simply be able to pick up any android phone as though it is their own and perform tasks. Obviously, that’s not the case.
In one instance, we have had an experience where an older gentleman had done a research session in a lab on a desktop computer. However, at this point, the fact that the user was used to a laptop with a mouse track at home was missed.
This meant that despite the technology not being too dissimilar from what the user was used to, they could not participate in the session. Despite highlighting that the recruitment process needed to be ironed out further, it also demonstrated that these issues could have been eliminated if this had been a remote research session.
The end product is typically of a higher standard
As far as user research techniques go, you should always aim to use the method that gives you the best results possible
Although it can sometimes be difficult to ensure that you have a high standard of audio and video whilst conducting remote user research, the research can still happen if the correct quality checks are taken and tested before the session.
Taking the time to ensure that the user has the correct set-up and a quiet environment before the session begins will also provide you with higher quality recordings in the long run.
In our experience, whenever we’ve held moderated in-person sessions, the user has always been tempted to turn to talk to you, rather than into the webcam. Overall, this doesn’t look as visually appealing in the full research video, despite it being more natural for users to do this.
Users not looking directly into the tech means that there can also be problems with eye-tracking and calibrating, which can be difficult to rectify whilst still making the user feel at ease and as natural as possible.
One of the main advantages of conducting remote user research sessions over other types of user research is that these potential problems are eliminated, increasing the chances of having a higher quality end product.
Long days moderating user research is tough
An unexpected additional advantage of remote user research over other user research techniques is that running research sessions from home is far easier for the moderator.
When you have numerous research sessions with only a minimal gap between each, it can be exhausting to make sure that you’re facilitating the users whilst also ensuring that your notes and set-up are exactly how you would like them.
Remote sessions mean that you only need to make sure that you’re ready for each session, making back-to-back moderating sessions a lot easier to manage.
Given the clear advantages remote user research provides over other user research methods, we believe that remote user research is the way forward. It simply provides you with far more opportunities that you don’t have access to in user labs.
Of course, we know far more about digital marketing than simply user research. For more informative articles like this one, covering anything from improved content writing to enhanced SEO techniques, you can head over to the c3 blog.
And if you want to move your business forward but aren’t sure you have the resources to tackle every area you need, then get in touch with our expert team to see how our always-on approach can help you.