It’s also nice to have a microphone headset so you don’t have to cradle the phone during the test.
This is how to do it: Let’s say you prefer the logic and efficiency of computers to human beings. There are many online tools you can use to create quick task-based usability tests, perform card sorts, and measure analytics.
The approach you take will depend mostly on how you feel about people—do you want to talk to users face-to-face, or use one of the many new UX tools and let computers gather the information automatically? Conduct and record a screen-sharing session with someone you know.
This straightforward method is just as good, contrary to obsolete popular belief, as a face-to-face testing session for most purposes.
Usertesting.com, Open Hallway, User Lytics, and Try My UI. No matter which guerilla method you choose, you can use an online web form to intercept qualified visitors in real time, and then call them or e-mail them right away to begin a session.
This strategy is called “live recruiting,” and it allows you to get insight about the tasks that people really care about rather than creating pre-determined tasks for them.
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Although more web people have basic design training nowadays, many are still unfamiliar with how to conduct user research, which is an important part of the design process.
You lose the bigger picture of usage, which can give you a misleading picture of what your users are doing on your website.
At any rate, each automated research tool works differently, but most tools can be sorted into a few broad categories by their purpose.
Unattended qualitative research is useful if you’ve already built some functional elements of your design or application, and you want to hear actual user voices talking about your interface, but you just don’t have the time, desire, or social skills to talk to them directly.
Doing this kind of research is mostly just a matter of signing up for one of the services and writing a couple of questions for your users to answer.