Remote Testing Isn’t Hard

Part I: Prep

  • Audience: Who will you put the prototype in front of? You’ll identify and agree on a single group. If you know in advance of your Sprint, you can proceed with starting to get those testers lined up. If not, you’ll be deciding who to test with on day 1 of the Sprint.
  • Timing: When will you start lining up your tester sessions? Sometimes scheduling happens in advance of a Design Sprint when you’ve already honed in on an audience. Other times it happens in concert with the Sprint. Either way, be sure you have a plan for when you’ll tap your audience, and who will have the responsibility of scheduling the sessions.
  • Recruit Approach: How will you approach recruiting the people who will test your prototype? Do you have an existing network that can be tapped, or are you starting from scratch? Talk about this as soon as possible so you can game-plan your recruit efforts.
  • Incentives: Do you want to offer an incentive or gift to people who participate? Sometimes this can be a good way for ensuring people show up and deliver quality insights. Common incentives? A $100 Amazon or Visa gift card. Alternatively, if your client’s company has a gift to offer like a product or gift card, leverage that!
  • Confidentiality: Do you need your testers to sign an NDA? If possible, don’t bother with it. This is an extra step and most of the time you’ll be sharing concept-level information that won’t need to be top secret. However, some companies require NDA no matter what and if you are working on secret proprietary ideas, you may want one. Just ask the question and decide as early as possible whether or not you need it and get the paperwork ready to go. Use an electronic signing tool to get signatures from testers (I use Adobe Docusign).

Part II: Scheduling & Hosting Testers

  • Technology: What tools will be used to schedule meetings and conduct sessions? I prefer Calendly and Zoom for scheduling and hosting interviews (respectively), and I’ll get into how I use these tools shortly.
  • Screener?: If you have a way to reach your target customer directly, a screener may not be needed. If you’re recruiting from a broader pool using social media or asking people to refer testers to you, you may want to set up a screener in order to vet whether or not potential testers are a match. Decide what criteria are most important to screen for: Age? Income? Personal interests? Create questions to determine whether or not people match your target and put them into a form. I use Google Forms but Typeform or SurveyMonkey work well too.
  • Scheduling with Calendly: Calendly allows you to set up slots for your testers to choose from. This reduces the email back and forth, AND you can set it up so that Calendly is integrated with your calendar and meeting software. For example, when a tester schedules a session a meeting will be added to my calendar with their info and they’ll also get a meeting invite on their end with the Zoom link for the test session.
  • Zoom: Zoom is definitely the Kleenex of video conferencing tools and, I admit, I started using it first so it’s what has stuck with me. You can certainly use another tool if you like, but I have my testers join a Zoom session, get permission to record our conversation and then record to the Cloud so that the rest of the team can watch the interview as soon as it’s over (15 mins after, once the session has processed). During the meeting, I share a link to our prototype in the Zoom chat and have the tester navigate the prototype on their own machine while sharing their screen with me.
  • Test Sessions: Be human first. Get to know your tester as a person a bit before diving right in. Ask them to share something about themselves, like what made them interested in doing the session, and/or where they’re calling in from. One of the keys is to be open and ready to receive them wherever they are at in their day. If someone is coming in frazzled, give them a moment to settle in. If someone is shy and hesitant with feedback, affirm that any and all feedback is valuable and that you are happy to be spending time with them.

Part III: Team Prep & Debrief

  • Test Prep: When will you prepare your team for test day? In a few places, including: (1) At the start of the Sprint so you can ensure the team understands they’ll be responsible for spending 5 hours watching tester videos; (2) At the start of test day. I find it hugely helpful to kick off the day with this meeting in order to set expectations among team members, and also provide some guidance on capturing insights.
  • Test Day: How will the process go down? In addition to recording insights (see the “Zoom” bullet above), you’ll also need a method for capturing and sharing insights. I typically have my team record their insights in the Mural board for the Sprint so that we can see it and review it together post-test day. It’s also worth noting that despite best intentions, scheduling challenges do happen so don’t be afraid to extend testing to two days.
  • Analysis: What does it all mean? I recommend scheduling a healthy synthesis meeting with the team following test day to review insights and observations captured. I typically schedule 2 hours on Tuesday — when testing is on a Friday — so that Monday can be an overflow day in case we need to schedule a tester Monday, and to provide the team a bit of breathing room to watch videos, if needed. During this time, it’s the facilitator’s job to manage idea sharing and discussion so the client team can align on what the most important insights are, and what actions should be taken as a result of what you learned.

You Can Do It




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Jackie Colburn

Jackie Colburn

Weekly resources for facilitators and leaders. Learn tips and methods to run better workshops, accelerate teams and uncover new ideas.

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