Usertesting × COVID-19: 3 Tactics

A few thoughts on qualitative usertestings in times of lock-downs, distance rules and a lot of fear
Franziska Block
Franziska Block
September 3, 2020
Usertesting × COVID-19: 3 Tactics

2020, what a year. We surely thought it to be a very exciting and forwarding year, but with the global covid-19 situation, the challenge had been lifted to the next level. People around the world are facing many shifts and changes in both their daily and work life. Just like that, work routines at Studio Lenzing have changed, too.

And so we had to ask ourselves: How can we carry on and keep our work quality as high as usual to guarantee our holistic approach despite covid-19? As product designers with a great deal of app projects, qualitative user testings are a core element of our work. Not an easy task in times of lock-downs, distance rules and a lot of fear. Right?

So at the beginning of this global crisis, we took some time to discuss and weigh the pros and cons of continuing qualitative user-testings in our office in spite of covid-19 without risking anybody’s health and lives. In the end, we decided to keep going with clear covid-19 guidelines. Here’s what we, together with our recruiter, came up with.

01/ Keep a clear schedule + rules

Ensuring everyones health and safety is most definitely our all-time priority. To do justice to this approach, we created a clear schedule and procedure, hand in hand with our recruiter who has been a massive help within the whole undertaking.

First of all, we make sure to limit any possible physical points of contact to a bare minimum. Here’s how:

Opening the door for test persons so they won’t have to touch the handle. Wearing a mask and keeping 1.5m distance in doing so.
Having anyone sterilize their hands before entering the office / testing space. Providing bottled water / drinks that people can take home afterwards to not have them touch any of the dishes.

Next step. Fulfilling all health requirements inside the testing space / room:

Keeping a window open all the time as long as it is not too cold or noisy. Keeping a physical distance. We make sure to always be 2m apart from each other. That way, we are also able to offer test persons to take off their masks to feel more at ease (not a must but an option).

Furthermore, we make sure to always have 30 minutes between each test person so we can all calm down, relax and prepare the space for the next person. That means: Airing the room thoroughly for 15–30 minutes and disinfecting all testing devices and surfaces.

Normally, we would introduce testing people to everything important as soon as they arrived. These days, it is absolutely necessary to do so in advance. Which naturally leads us to our next advice:

02/ Have a proper pre-arrival briefing

Together with our recruiter, we make sure to find only those people who feel comfortable with the whole testing whilst covid-19 situation. To give them an honest, holistic idea and insight to the testing process, we then send out a clear schedule in advance. This way, they can make themselves familiar with all the regulations and the whole testing flow and see if they would have some comfort coming to our studio to test our project. In doing so, they already know how to behave and adapt to all steps and requirements that we set.

Another thing that is very important to communicate and ensure is: punctuality. And no, not just because we are German and love people being on time, in this case punctuality is crucial to be able to follow all health requirement steps to keep everyone safe. Having said this, we also remind people coming by car to plan with looking for a parking spot and walking to the office. It seems aimless, but is very helpful and supports everyone involved in this situation.

03/ Remember: Less is more

Back at the old normal days, we would be testing 8 to 10 people a day. Trying to make the most effort and get as many insights as possible from the given amount of time. That meant to be rushing from test person to test person, hardly taking breaks or time to talk about our experiences in between. Having all these health regulations and necessary disinfection and airing breaks in between, we knew we could not keep up with that pace and had to cut the amount of people we would be testing a day into halves. So instead of testing 8 people in one day, we changed to testing 8 people in two days.

Interestingly, this is a very fruitful learning that we will keep at heart and practice, even when this whole covid-19-craziness will be a thing of the past. Here’s why: We truly love the work we do. All of it. From the first day of Studio Lenzing, we dedicated ourselves to go with all our heart because we truly dislike doing things by halves. Sometimes that’s a risky thing though, too. Because if you always give 110 percent, you risk burning down the candle at both ends. Testing 8 or even 10 people a day is quite stressful. It leaves no time to sync in between, to compare and adapt and just take a breather in between which is, at least regarding to what we’ve learned, absolutely a must-have.

Altogether, we think we found a very pleasant and risk-free way of going on without sticking to the old-normal but rather shaping a better future — not just with the products that we make but also through the work that we do here.

Anyway, this is it, for now. We hope you enjoyed the read and maybe even took a few ideas with you.

September 3, 2020
Process
Franziska Block
Franziska Block

UX & Copywriter & Blogger

Passionate yogi, dancer and adventure seeker
Known for her serious book addiction

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