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69. Remote Moderated Research - Pg. 144

ReseaRch MethoD 69 Remote Moderated Research Remotely observing users completing tasks on their own electronic devices can reveal rich insights into contexts of use that cannot be replicated in a controlled lab environment. Remote moderated research is a method adapted from traditional usability testing techniques, but relies on screen-sharing software in lieu of the usability lab equipment to conduct it. There is still live interaction between the researcher and participants in remote moderated tests, and anything from websites to prototypes, screen mock-ups, and sketches can be tested and evaluated. However, a key differentiator and benefit of the method is that it exposes rich, qualitative data about a participant's native computer and possibly his or her physical environment, which usability tests that take place in a controlled lab setting do not. Depending on your needs and time line, participants for remote moderated testing can be recruited using traditional means, or "live recruited" (see Time Aware Research). Live recruiting participants is particularly powerful, as the participant can be intercepted as he or she begins a process, and the research session can be initiated immediately upon his or her consent. 1 This flexibility allows the research team to observe behavior in a task that the participant has selected, as opposed to the team assigning a task or set of tasks that may not carry a sense of urgency or importance to the user. Once intercepted, observing how people complete tasks that they've initiated can be insightful. For instance, if your interface requires some organization of personal media (e.g., pictures, videos, 1. Bolt, Nate, and Tony Tulathimutte. Remote Research: Real Users, Real Time, Real Research. San Francisco, CA: Rosenfeld Media, 2010. 2. See note 1 above. 3. See note 1 above. Further Reading Tullis, Tom, and Bill Albert. Measuring the User Experience. San Francisco, CA: Morgan Kaufmann, 2008. Tullis, Tom, Donna Tedesco, and William Albert. Beyond the Usability lab: Conducting large-Scale User Experience Studies. San Francisco, CA: Morgan Kaufmann, 2010.