How do you perform mobile usability testing? Where do you go? What do you take with you? The last time I checked when performing an iOS focused test, all I brought was my iPad and my laptop. Let me tell you how this could help you be more mobile, too.
Mobile Usability Testing Army of One
I am a firm believer that mobile usability testing does not have to be expensive at all. Sometimes it can even be free. There are some great tools out there that can help you do your work. You might not come across as a high-tech, fancy pants, research agency, but guess what… you want your clients to pay you for your talents, and your capabilities of creating valuable insights in a swift and solid fashion.
“Hmm, am I detecting a grudge?”
Well, not really, just a bit. The more complex the research projects, the more dependent you could become on some support from others. Lucky for us, there are still a lot of companies out there that still need to get their feet wet, so to speak, in research and optimisation. How cool would it be that you could be that effective, karma-balanced consultant? Mega cool.
Your investments… iPad, laptop and 2 apps
So, let me tell you what I used to do a recent tablet research into the workings of several browser based applications. For the purpose of this blog post, and apps mentioned, I am going to take for granted that you:
- own an Apple iPad 2 or higher
- own a Windows or Apple computer (to be that Super Mobile Consultant… laptop is preferred *wink*)
With the two pieces of hardware in my arsenal, I looked for some apps to help me do 2 things. I first wanted to be able to record the screen of the iPad on which the participants were conducting the tests. Second, instead of breathing my coffee stained breath all over the shoulders whilst looking over it, I wanted to be able to put some distance between myself and the participant.
After some looking around, I decided to buy 2 apps that suited my needs perfectly.
Reflector is a small and simple app with two purposes. Reflector’s main functionality is to display your iPad’s screen on your laptop. Don’t worry, Reflector is available for Windows and Mac OS. The app creates a Airplay type network to which your iPad can connect. Instantly upon connecting, and with extremely little lag, you can see the screen of your iPad on your screen.
The Reflector app, for a single license will only set you back $12.99. Now, I am not sure what you charge your clients for your work, but thirteen dollars is a pittance. Especially when I tell you that the app can also record the iPad’s screen while it is being displayed on you laptop. Cool? Sure is!
Imagine what more you can do with the app… hook up your laptop to a tv (my Mac has a HDMI port) and display the session in another room.
Anyways, it is an app worth considering, especially for that price.
Learn more about Reflector App (Mac OS & Windows)
UX Recorder or Magitest
“Hold on their Chief… if Reflector app can record, why would you need an app like UX Recorder or Magitest?”
Well, Reflector does a lot of things, but it does not record audio, and it does not record finger gestures. You could use apps like Cohdoo on your iPhone, or another audio app on your laptop, but you could also invest in apps like UX Recorder or Magitest. These apps are Apple approved apps, so there are available in the App Store. The apps have a browser built-in, and it is this browser that can be recorded.
There are some subtle differences between the apps, but I won’t focus on that in this blog post. What you do need to keep in mind is that participants won’t be testing in the native Mobile Safari app. Both apps will allow participants to view the content in full screen, or with the URL bar visible.
Here is an example of an iPad screen recording using UX Recorder (read related blog post)
Which app should you buy? If you just want to record, then any of the two apps will do. If you are someone who is used to more project type approaches, then I would recommend you look into UX Recorder.
Mobile Usability Testing in action
What did it look like? Here is an impression of mobile usability testing with Reflector and UX Recorder.
My process. Did you see the piece of paper?
The entire process was not difficult. Mobile usability testing in this manner is easy, and efficient to perform. Yes, even you can do it! Here are the steps I took:
- Created my test plan
- Printed test scenario and tasks for the participants (yes, on good ‘ol paper)
- Prepared UX Recorder on the iPad (video and recording settings)
- Perform a test recording and check output (I had my audio muted, which also muted the mic…)
- Connected the iPad via Reflector to my Macbook
- Started the recording in the iPad app
- Performed test (it was mostly unmoderated due to the short length of the test. I assisted in case participants got stuck or had a dire question)
- Ended the recording of the test
- Rendered the video and exported to my camera roll
- Repeated step 5 through 8 for any additional participants
- OPTION Send out a follow-up survey to all participants
After that, it is just a matter of analysing the video’s, and the survey results. You are now set to create and present your report.
Can it be that simple? Sure, but of course, in the end, it all really depends on the demands of the client.
Questions, comments, or tips? Leave me a comment below