Feelings about mortality. Regrets about lost opportunities and wasted time. Annoyances about stereotypes.
What might sound like grist for a psychotherapy session or a philosophy class were actually major topics that recently came up in an unexpected place: a user experience feedback session I held for a top company in the smart appliance and electronics industry.
The Study – A Remote, Unmoderated Interview
To help the company understand its core customers better, we conducted a remote, unmoderated interview study. Remote, unmoderated testing is when participants complete pre-determined activities when and where they would like, using an online tool to provide feedback and record the session.
The study participant typically thinks out loud as they work on the tasks, and the researcher reviews the recorded sessions later instead of communicating with the participant in real time.
As the experience with the smart appliance company’s customers showed, remote, unmoderated interviewing presents an opportunity to dig deeper – to ask questions that people may not feel comfortable answering in front of a live moderator.
The interview consisted of high-level questions on the customers’ values, goals and lifestyle. The candid responses resembled the open and honest conversations one generally has only with close friends and family.
To receive open and honest feedback, remote, unmoderated interviews can be a great option. While moderated interviews allow you to ask additional probing questions, some subjects are too sensitive and private to share with a stranger.
Remote unmoderated usability studies can cover a range of topics, such as how appealing a new app or website is, how easy a product is to unbox and start using, and even a company’s overall brand reputation.
In the case of apps and products, interview studies are particularly valuable when conducted in the early design and prototyping phases. This is because, the more you understand your users, the better you can create relevant products that delight.
The Benefits Of Remote, Unmoderated Interviews
Remote, unmoderated interviews encourage feedback that is:
- Unbiased: In unmoderated sessions, participants speak into a recorder, eliminating the innate bias introduced by the presence of moderators or other people, whether remote or in person. Participants do not feel the need to gain the favor of the moderator or anyone else by altering their responses.
- Anonymous: With the help of technology, unmoderated sessions can eliminate all identifying information that can tie back to the participant. Participants do not even need to show their face, and through third-party platforms, they do not need to directly provide personal information to the session’s host. This creates anonymity and a safe, comfortable space to speak candidly about their experiences.
- Descriptive: With the proper instructions, unmoderated interviews can be as fruitful as moderated ones. In moderated interviews, poorly timed follow-up questions, or ones that perhaps probe more deeply than the participant is comfortable with, can throw off the groove of the interview and influence responses to future questions.
- Time and resource efficient: With the help of third-party platforms, it is quicker to launch and fill unmoderated sessions. Additionally, you do not need to be present for the sessions, and may watch them at your own pace.
Tips For Scripting A Remote, Unmoderated Study
Here are five tips for scripting a remote, unmoderated study:
- Provide context: Give an overview of what you are looking to learn. This will act as a homing point throughout the interview as participants progress through the prompts.
- Use a combination of open-ended and specific questions: Use open-ended questions to allow participants to share their entire experience. Use specific questions to probe about specific topics to ensure they are covered by the participants.
- Ask clear questions: Jargon and slang can be misunderstood, and can cause the participants’ responses to deviate from your goal. Use layperson’s terms to ensure participants understand the prompt.
- Specify response length: When asking open-ended questions, set participants’ expectations around response length. This can be the length of time, length of response or none of the above.
- Use neutral language: Use neutral language so as to not bias participants to align with the viewpoint you have presented.
Remote, unmoderated interviews can be a potent way to uncover deep human insights about a company and its offerings, in ways that will surprise companies and help them better understand their customers.
(Lead image: Depositphotos)