Set-up Remote Unmoderated Usability Studies

George Abraham / Thursday, March 31, 2016

When Indigo Studio’s product vision was first drafted, it was always intended to be a prototyping solution and not just prototyping tool. Our ultimate goal is to support the prototyping process for software based applications.

Rapid Prototyping Process = Design + Evaluation

We made Indigo Studio to rapidly design UI prototypes. Equally important to us is the ability to conduct usability studies with target users. It has been stated that theory without practice is empty, and practice without theory is blind. This is equally true for design(theory) and evaluation(practice).

While design reviews are one way to collect UX feedback, it's not a substitute for empirical feedback or findings based on usage. After all, we are expecting users to use the prototype and not just stare at it.

Today we are announcing the ability to set up remote and unmoderated usability studies for your Indigo Studio prototypes. Remote because your users can participate in the usability study from anywhere in the world, and unmoderated because users can participate whenever they want to without requiring a moderator to be present.

If you are new to usability studies, you should realize that a remote unmoderated study is no silver bullet. It’s simply one of many ways to evaluate designs. There are pros and cons, some of which are discussed in this article.

TL; DR

Reading not your thing? No problem. We recorded a quick video just for you.

Creating a New Usability Study

For creating a usability study for a prototype, you need to first share it on indigodesigned.com. I’m going to use a prototype that I have already shared, called Money app. Money app is a prototype that simulates a set of user stories related to managing daily expenses.

Select the create a new usability study option from the prototype details view to kick-off a brand new study.

Create new usability study

When you create a new study, it is automatically added to the “Usability Studies” area of indigodesigned.com. This way you can go there directly to review results for any studies in progress or to review older studies.

Defining Usability Tasks

A study has three main sections. The first section allows you to add some welcome page content, which is what your participants will see before starting the study. You can add any text material for your participants to read. The second and most important part is the section to define your usability study tasks. And finally, you can add some thank you page content that your participants will see when the study ends.

Adding Tasks

Adding content for the welcome page and thank you page is optional. However, you need at least one task defined to start the study.

Recording a Task Flow

The usability study can be conducted remotely and unmoderated. That means, any number of participants can take the study at the same time. So how you phrase your tasks, and the detail present in the prototype, may influence the outcome of the study.

To assist with this, as part of setting up a new task, we let you record the task steps/flow for completing that task. This way, you as a study moderator will know up front whether the prototype will indeed support the task, and does not lead participants to a dead end.

For my first task, I'm going to add the following:

  • Assume that you spent some money on a cup of coffee. Record this expense using the app.

Clicking on record a task flow launches the prototype and the recording interface. I will mark the UI state I am currently viewing as the start point. Of course, depending on the task, you can interact with the prototype and get the UI state you need before marking it as the start point.

Once you mark the start point, the service automatically records the steps leading to the finish point as you interact with the prototype. If you make a mistake, you can always undo the last step. Once you are done, save the task flow. And that’s it.

recording task flow

Using the same approach, I can define additional tasks for my study:

  • Change the budget you have defined for coffee from $45 to $65
  • Where will you look to find out how much you spent in the month of June this year?

Inviting Participants

To let participants take this study,  officially start this study, and use the invite option to get a direct link to the participate. You can share this link over email, IM or post it on a forum.

Invite Users

You can make changes to the study as long as you have no participants. Once participation begins, you cannot make changes. And when you have enough participants, you can close the study to prevent additional sessions.

How to Get Started

You can conduct usability study on any prototype published on http://indigodesigned.com. We look forward to any feedback you may have about what’s working, what’s not etc. Send us your ideas by posting on http://indigostudio.uservoice.com

To see a description of the usability study report, read the following article:

Reviewing Usability Study Results

Unlimited Studies, Unlimited Users. No Charge.

As long you have an active subscription for Indigo Studio, remote usability studies and all other features of indigodesigned.com are free! Which means you can create any number of usability studies with an unlimited number of participants.