Happy Stories #6: The pros and cons of different test locations

Welcome to Happy Stories! Every week we’ll keep you up-to-date on the latest developments in the area of UX research and testing of digital products. Tests ensure happy users and that makes us happy. Hence the name; Happy Stories. The location of your user test has a major influence on the results of the test because every location has it’s pros and cons.

At the end of this article you will know:

✓   The pros and cons of different types of test locations

Your own office

Your own office is often the first place where the first small tests are conducted when developing a new digital application. In-house testing can vary from asking colleagues what they think about certain aspects of the application to inviting test subjects to your office.

Pros

  • One of the biggest pros of testing at your own office is time. It’s easy to walk to one of your colleagues’ desks or send them a Slack message if they are willing to help. It helps you get feedback on your ideas a quick as possible.
  • Another pro of testing (regularly) at your own office is creating a user-centred atmosphere. By showing everyone that testing happens often and is contributing to projects in a positive way, the whole organisation will experience the benefits of testing. It is also easy to invite team members to watch the session without them having to spend time traveling to the test location.

Cons

  • The best people to test your digital application with are the people who are going to use it in real life. Therefore asking your colleagues to test might yield results that are irrelevant for your target group.
  • Staying within the safe boundaries of your own office might make it more difficult to engage in the subject your digital application is about. It may also bias participants, resulting in participants who are a little too positive about  your company or application while testing.

Guerrilla

‘Get out of the building’ is one of the most famous statements in the creative industry. Actually going out of the building to test your digital application on the streets, in stores or at train stations can provide interesting test results.

Pros

  • The biggest advantage of outdoor testing is that you can test the application on the spot where your target group will use it. This gives you valuable insights that you might not have been able to imitate in a lab environment.

Cons

  • Observing participants gives valuable insights into their emotions and motives. It can be difficult to observe and record this properly in a busy uncontrolled environment.
  • With outdoor testing, participants are often asked to participate on the spot. As a result, participants can be nervous and execute test tasks less well than if they were able to take their time in a familiar environment.

Remote

Using tests for remote use, you can conduct tests with participants in their own natural environment by using software for sharing screens or online services for remote research.

Pros

  • Time and money are two important factors within each company. Time is often scarce and money has to be spent as effectively as possible. Remote testing offers a solution because many tests can be performed in a short period of time, for relatively little money.
  • In a remote test, the participants will carry out the test in their own familiar surroundings on their own devices. This ensures that the participants in a relaxed state of mind can concentrate well on the execution of the tasks.

Cons

  • An important aspect of user research is observing and analyzing the behavior of the participants. Do they talk aloud? Can I tell from their facial expression that they find something easy or difficult? The uncontrolled nature of remote testing means that these kinds of things are often beyond your control.
  • Because you are not present at the test, you can not deviate from the pre-established test script. As a result, you can not zoom in on specific parts of the test to learn more about the motivations of the participants.

Independent location

At  an independent location such as Happy Labs, all facilities are available to carry out a proper user test without worrying about peripheral issues.

Pros

  • Independent locations have extensive testing facilities that you do not have outside or in your office such as eye-tracking, live streaming and recording. These facilities ensure that you can explore every detail of the test and get the most out of every participant.   
  • In addition to a wide range of test facilities, independent locations also have professionals in the field of user research. These professionals can also be used to set up or supervise the tests for you so you can focus on the results.
  • Independent locations often provide participants that are selected specifically for your test. This ensures that you are testing your application with real world users.

Cons

  • We obviously believe an independent test location has the best all the above. However, testing at an independent location is often the most deluxe location which also has its price tag. Happy Labs offers different packages so that there is something for everyone.
  • Another con is that you put participants in a ‘lab environment’ and as a result they do their best to to carry out the tasks properly, which can lead to unrealistic test results..

Happy Testing every test location

There is no ‘best’ place to perform for good research. All methods have their own pros and cons and can be used separately from each other. From Quick and dirty to really zooming in on specific parts like NS is doing on a regular basis.

Now you know the pros and cons of the different test locations. Feeling inspired and want to start testing right away? We’re happy to help in performing user tests with a hassle-free experience! Click here for the possibilities. We can also help you find the right participants for your test.

Happy week!