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How To Run a Usability Testing Sprint Remotely

Ever wondered how to run a remote usability testing sprint? We reveal how and exactly why this is such a huge benefit to your product or service.

Successful products are intuitive. But how can you be sure your designs are intuitive? The answer is: Usability Testing.

Usability Testing helps you identify gaps between your users’ intuitions and your product’s behaviors. As a result, you can be confident you are actually improving your designs and not aimlessly ‘experimenting’.

“Oh no, but I haven’t been doing any user testing…”

You’ve been naughty! Great products are built on a foundation of user-centricity, designed with user insights. Without them, you’re designing an experience, but very likely not the best one for your Users.

However, despite understanding the value of UX, the path to getting there seems daunting. Fear not!

From years of testing with users from around the world, we’ve developed an efficient and effective Usability Testing framework that you can run remotely! Through countless iterations, it has a proven track record of steering design decisions for several of our internal and client projects.

All right, that sounds good. But what does a remote usability testing sprint need?

Here’s a quick snapshot of what you’ll require:

1. Who’s involved?

We conduct our usability tests with five users (why 5?). Each test is moderated by our UX expert (that’s me!), and assisted by an observer from the team (usually the PM on the project).

The demographic of these users are derived from the businesses’ user persona(s). Sourcing 5 participants can take anywhere from a day to 2 weeks, depending on how specific the criteria are. To make it an easier quest, we highly recommend offering a reward like an Amazon gift card!

*If you’re a client, you’re encouraged to attend the sessions, in the role of an observer.

2. What do we test?

The scope of the tests ranges from 1 to 3 key scenarios, depending on the time we have allotted for each test.

The objective is to stage an actual context of use. We create a believable situation for the User to imagine herself being in, with a clear goal and concrete next steps. We then observe how they approach using our designs to achieve said goal.

3. What tools do we use?

Skype is the tool of choice to conduct our Usability Tests remotely for two reasons.

The first reason is that users are familiar with its simple interface – almost everyone has used Skype, even your mom!

The second and most important reason is that Skype allows the tester to share their screen, while still including the front-facing camera for you to observe their facial expressions.

Whenever we’re able to record the sessions, we use the ecamm Call Recorder for Skype.

So what does the actual usability testing sprint look like?

Day 1: Monday

Get the right context with workshops

We start the sprint with workshops to reiterate the business and product goals. We also go through any existing data, and determine the specific user behaviors and attitudes to investigate.

From there, we plan our tests accordingly.

Day 2: Tuesday

Prototype & Script Preparation

The next steps are to prepare the testing prototype and script. The script contains the scenarios to present to the users.

We also make sure the prototype can support the necessary flows the users need to take to complete the tasks involved.

These are then tested internally, finalized and we’re all set to for the testing to start.

Day 3 – 4: Wednesday, Thursday

It’s Testing Time!

Finally, it’s time to test! The duration of each test varies from 20 mins for 1-week sprints to 1 hour for 2-weeks sprints.

Each session begins with us welcoming and thanking the user, and then explaining our objectives and how the test will be performed. We emphasize the importance of thinking aloud and assure them that there are no right or wrong answers, only what they think.

The moderator then sets up the scenario/s and observes how the designs perform, asking follow-up questions to clarify assumptions.

Remember, it’s important to also watch for nonverbal cues like facial expressions and any signs of confusion or uncertainty.

After the session concludes, we thank the user, and the moderator and the observer debrief and collate notes.

Day 5: Friday

Report Writing

After the fifth test, we start work on the report, and deliver it by the end of the week!

In Agile product schedules, this quick and dirty, ‘in-sprint,’ guerrilla test report will help to validate design decisions before expensive build-outs – maximising return-on-investment.

Day 6 – 10: Monday to Friday (for 2-week sprints)

Strategizing Recommendations

Additionally, for 2-week sprints, we provide high-level recommendations based on insights derived from our tests.

This 2-week sprint is recommended for products being developed using the Lean methodology, where this deliverable turns analytics data into actionable design insights for your next product iteration.

Here’s the difference between a 1-week and 2-week usability testing sprint:

Our 2-week Usability Testing Sprint will also include high-level recommendations you can take back to your team straightaway.

Psst, we also do detailed UX and UI design if you need help turning insights and recommendations into a great product. Wanna see some of the things we’ve done? Find em here.

There you go! And that is how you can test with your users, anywhere you or them might be. No excuses now 🙂


Want to ensure you give your users exactly what they want? We can help! 

To celebrate the very welcome arrival of 2017, we’re offering $500 off your first Usability Testing Sprint (A 1-week guerilla sprint was $2,000 > Now SGD 1.5k / A 2-week usability sprint was $3,600 > Now SGD 3.1k).

Drop us a line at, and we’ll help you create an intuitive design guaranteed to keep your users coming back!

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