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Making usability testing usable during a pandemic

Written by

Shelby Ayris

Senior UX Designer

Our experience

We find ourselves writing something we never imagined we would, “making usability testing usable during a pandemic”. As we are all aware, the Coronavirus outbreak is continuing to impact people’s health, work and social life, but this post isn’t all doom and gloom – we promise!

The job of a UX designer is to find a solution when faced with a challenge, but the question is, how exactly do we do that during these unprecedented times. At Lucid, we pride ourselves on delivering the best user experiences possible, but how do we deliver that when we are unable to leave the house? Let alone interact with our users.

“It’s time for people to adapt”

Making the most of what we have…


Luckily for us, the world of technology is continuously evolving. Whether you love it, or hate it, right now it seems technology has been a saviour for many of us. Because of this, not only are families staying connected, but workplaces too – It’s time for people to adapt. 


Person-to-person meetings are now replaced with zoom calls, desks replaced with tabletops and 1pm lunches replaced with… well, probably far too many snacks! The important thing to remember is, no matter how we do it, the end goal remains the same: deliver efficient, effective user experiences to the standard our clients, and end users, expect from us. Here are a few ways to get the best out of remote user research:

Our top tips


1. Be efficient and reflect on the time before

Now is the perfect time to find out what was REALLY useful about the user research conducted in past projects. Dig to find the root of what made that particular study a successful piece of user research. This will help you become more efficient and think practically about what you ask your participants to share with you.

2. Remote interviews

There are alternatives to getting up close and personal with your participant. In normal circumstances, interacting with users would be key to observing body language and understanding empathy. Video conferences have been a great way to connect teams, but this tool can also be used for conducting remote user interviews. We can use video conferencing for structured interviews, structured interviews, virtual focus groups and even virtual workshops.

3. Desk research

It’s time to brush up on your knowledge, whether that’s reading a published paper you never got round to reading, sharpening your skill set or even just using online research tools to help build and define your user group. Defining your user group is key, and this research is accessible without having the intended user present.

A user group is defined in the standard BS EN 62366-1:2015 as a subset of intended users who are differentiated from other intended users by factors that are likely to influence usability, such as age, culture, expertise or type of interaction with a medical device.

4. Diary studies

User diaries provide great insight into human behaviour that may not necessarily be articulated in a typical interview setting. The participant can record feelings, interactions and specific events. You could also add the addition of camera journals or mobile phones if required. The difficulty during an unmoderated study is to ensure the participant is compliant and follows the study through – daily catch up calls can help with this.

5. Remote usability testing

The great thing about remote usability testing is that the users are already in their own context. Many of our products are used in a clinical setting, but we are becoming increasingly involved with patients managing their own therapies at home. Usability sessions can be moderated remotely by using software that allows the participant to share their screen with the moderator. The moderator will define a list of tasks for the participant to fulfil. The participant should talk aloud when undertaking these task, this is extremely important when working remotely as understanding body language can be tricky.

6. Enjoy the headspace! And embrace new opportunities

Coming from somebody who usually works from home 2 days a week, I hope this allows other businesses to take the time to think about new business models, opportunities that can be leveraged and new ways of working. It’s a perfect time to embrace new opportunities and simply get some headspace!

Stay safe everyone,

UX designer at Lucid

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