Penelope Rance

My UX research & design ramblings

War Stories - part 5

If you do enough research with real human beings you will start to build up a collection of ‘war stories’ about things that went wrong that you can learn from. This could be anything from you forgot the spare batteries to recruiting the wrong people to speak to and anything in between.

At the end of February I was asked to organise a test for one of our many products. We were interested in customers mindsets around the product, what sort of competitors they might use and then a run through of a new prototype one of my colleagues was working on.

Nothing out of the ordinary and the sort of testing I have done many times before.

I booked a lab, sent the recruiter details of the participants we would like to speak to and started work on a test script.

But as we got closer to the test date - 17 March, everything got a lot less certain. With Coronavirus taking over on the news I started to realise that maybe my test was not going to go to plan after all.

With less than a week to go, having worked through all the possible scenarios and discussing it with my boss, but still with no solid direction from up on high, I emailed the lab to say we might have to cancel. Then I had to speak to the recruiter and ask if participants would be able to do the session remotely.

With testing due on Tuesday it was Monday before we could make a final decision - we would go remote.

Tuesday’s testing did not go too badly, but with the whole London office working from home, along with most of the rest of the country, we did have a few technical issues.

We had decided to use Zoom, a tool I have used before, but because we were on the free version it kept kicking us out of the calls after 40 minutes. This meant a bit of jiggling with the script to make sure we still had time to look at the prototype.

There was also the issue that I could not record from my laptop! When I have used it before I have done so via the app on a Mac, so did not realise that my laptop was lacking this vital button! We got over this issue by having my colleague record from his computer.

Luckily we only had one participant have technical issues and I was still able to hold a phone interview with him so still got some good insights.

I learnt a lot from the day both for the project and about remote testing. I have already got the brief for my next test, so now I just have to work out how to refine what I learnt last week to make the next one smoother, seeing as we will all be working from home for the foreseeable future.

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