Using remote desktop instead of onsite visit for persona creation

22 Aug 2011 - 3:02pm
3 years ago
4 replies
1154 reads
Brian Mila
2009

Has anyone tried using remote desktop sharing tools to gather user data for the purposes of persona creation and user scenario definitions? I'd like to fully understand the pros and cons before I put a proposal on the table. My initial thoughts are that it would be less successful for the following reasons, in order of importance:

  • It might not be feasible to hear the participant unless they can wear a headset for a few hours (also it would be cumbersome to wear a headset if they need to take calls)
  • You cannot see the participant (cant see their frustration/confusion/etc)
  • You cannot see the work environment (cant see/hear their distractions, paper forms that are used, etc)
  • Network lag may reduce fidelity

 

The only pro I could think of was the ability to easily record both video and audio.

Clearly I'm in favor of an onsite visit, but I am very interested to hear of any success stories of remote data gathering used in this context in the event that budgetary restrictions are insurmountable....

Thanks,
Brian

 

Comments

22 Aug 2011 - 10:45pm
jeremiespoken
2011

Having the same exact quesiton in my head right now!

In a broader sense, can proper UX research be done online, with the meetings you have to do with the stakeholders and subject matter experts and extract the information you need to develop great UX?

23 Aug 2011 - 5:06am
Al McFarland
2008

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You might look at www.lucidchart.com.  It's a (not for free) multi-user collaboration space, supporting draw objects and text.  It would work for participatory design exercises, like card sorts, and it does allow multiple users to see and manipulate the draw space at the same time.  Unfortunately, it doesn't solve the body language or prosodics problems brought up before.

 

Sometimes it's necesary to break up a virtual user session into multiple connected exercises, so that by using collaborative tools and web conferencing separately, you can approach what you might get from a well-facilitated face-face session....

 

Al McFarland

From: "jeremiespoken" <hello@jeremiespoken.com>
To: "5752 nj" <5752.nj@comcast.net>
Sent: Tuesday, August 23, 2011 3:21:06 AM
Subject: Re: [IxDA] Using remote desktop instead of onsite visit for persona creation

Having the same exact quesiton in my head right now!

In a broader sense, can proper UX research be done online, with the meetings  
you have to do with the stakeholders and subject matter experts and extract  
the information you need to develop great UX?

23 Aug 2011 - 4:46pm
Brian Mila
2009

Al,

I appreciate your reply, but I think we're talking apples and oranges. I'm not looking to do card sorting, affinity diagrams, or designing of any kind at this point. I just want to shadow some users of a fielded app to gather data that can be used to create personas and usage scenarios. I'm not seeing how the remote collaboration tools you mentioned would help me here. 

Brian

23 Aug 2011 - 8:33pm
Dana Chisnell
2008

Brian,

Sure, why not try it? Just open up a Skype video chat and leave it open the whole day or as long as the participants can stand it. In some ways, it could be more interesting than being on site in a session where things have to be more structured, just because you're there and there's limited time. You could record the session on your end with Morae or Camtasia. And, with enough time, they might even forget you're watching.

It occurs to me that if you can't see the person or their work environment anyway, you might instead or in addition do a diary study. It could be for a very short time (I just did a one-day diary study for a very focused activity).

If you were to do a diary study, you could ask people to use the tools they have on hand to document their situation, including still photos and video captured on their cell phones (only if their organizations permit this, of course). If you can get the participants to take photos, you can get a feeling for what *they* think is interesting and important along with the data that you want to collect from them about what they do and how they do it. If they can do video on their phones (or you can supply very inexpensive video cameras -- first generation Flips are available on Amazon for about $50 each), you can get people to do a little day-in-the-life talking into the lens as well as showing you their surroundings. Even if not everyone in the study records images / audio, but if a few do it, you're ahead. (Oh, and you could let the particpants who use the cameras you supply keep them as a way to thank them.) Just a thought.

Doing the diary study and then the contextual interviews through a remote meeting tool as the follow up to the diary data collection could be help you get the kind of data you're looking for without having to be there.

Dana

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