This article was originally and in full length published on UX Magazine.
In the early 90’s, Jakob Nielsen declared in-person user research as state of the art. “User testing with real users is the most fundamental usability method and is in some sense irreplaceable, since it provides direct information about how people use computers [...]”. Sometimes in-person user research can be logistically impractical or cost prohibitive, so remote user research is often employed as an alternative.
In-person user research has been around the longest, and is still widely used as a great way to gather feedback on websites, advertisements, or software. In-person research usually involves letting users perform tasks on a computer while asking them questions, observing their behaviors and body language, or having them think out loud.
In remote user research, on the other hand, the physical location is no longer important because the research subjects can work independently of the researchers. There are two forms of remote user research: moderated and automated. Moderated tests require the researcher to interact with the participant during the session. During automated tests, the researcher does not interfere, which allows people to participate whenever it fits their personal schedule.
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