22 March 2010

Sustainable user research

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UX Matters
Now, more than ever, it’s important to determine when it’s feasible to save money and the environment by conducting more user research remotely. But what are the advantages and disadvantages of remote research. Jim Ross reports in UX matters.

“Although lack of time and money for travel have always been barriers to conducting in-person user research, the current recession and concerns about global warming and wasted resources have pressured businesses to cut back on business travel and conduct more business remotely. Should user research be any different? […]

Remote user research can be either moderated or unmoderated. In both cases, the participants and researcher are in separate locations. However, in moderated, remote user research, the researcher and the participants go through the research activity together virtually, while in unmoderated, remote user research, the researcher is not involved during the study.

In this column, I’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of moderated and unmoderated, remote user research. Then, I’ll reflect on some deciding factors for conducting either in-person or remote user research—or both in combination. Understanding all of these considerations can help you to decide when it’s most appropriate to use in-person or remote methods of user research—and if the latter, whether to do moderated or unmoderated research—or to combine both approaches and get the best of both worlds.”

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