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Undoubtedly user research labs have their advantages, often being able to provide a wide range of insights into users behaviours and giving moderators an insight into their opinions on certain aspects. However, the equipment to fully kit out these labs can be costly, and can result in users feeling uncomfortable – which can alter the results that you get from the sessions.

We believe that remote user research sessions are a much more cost effective and efficient way of doing research going forward, and here is why:

Users always feel more at ease in their own home

No matter the amount of fancy sofas and cushions that you get for your user lab, it is always going to feel set up and unnatural for users. Mostly because they have likely had to commute up to an hour to get to you, 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 are eliminating any of 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 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 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, when the users were based within their own home.

Replicating similar technology can often be difficult

Again, to make research sessions as accurate as possible the users need to be using technology that they are familiar with. In the past it has 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.

In one instance we have had an experience where an older gentleman has 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 dis-similar from what the user was used to, they were unable to take part 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 can be of a higher standard overall

Although it can sometimes be difficult ensuring that you have a high standard of audio and video whilst being remote, it can still happen if the correct quality checks are taken before the session. Taking the time to make sure that the user has the correct set up and has a quiet environment before the session begins, will provide you with higher quality recordings in the long run.

In our experience, whenever we have 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 research sessions means 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 to running research sessions from home is that it is easier for the moderator. When you have numerous research sessions with only a minimal gap in between each, it can be exhausting to make sure that you are facilitating the users whilst also making sure 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 are ready for each of the sessions, and therefore make back-to-back sessions moderating, a lot easier to manage.

Overall, we believe that remote user research is the way forward – and it provides you with many more opportunities that you do not have access to in user labs. Want to hear more about our user research approach, and what we could do for you? Contact us here