Simple Guide to Perform Mobile User Testing

4 January 2016

Los Angeles: Today, the tremendous growth and ubiquity of mobile devices have made the job of UX designer interesting and more challenging. We know that the user-testing mobile apps and websites is an essential part of UX toolkit. But unlike the desktop environment, no outstanding software packages like Camtasia or Silverback are designed specifically to record mobile usability.

Even if you aren’t building a mobile application, there are chances that a huge proportion of your website traffic coming from mobile. So, running regular mobile usability tests is the only way through which you can gauge how well the channel is working for your customers. After several years of experimentation, we have figured out the best testing method available for now. Using this simple and cost effective method, you can easily test your Android and iPhone experiences.

Wires and Duct Tape - An old method

  • Gone are the days where we used a sled to mount the phone and camera into a position where we could record what users were doing on the screen. We used to attach a webcam to the sled and mount the phone using tape and some Velcro strips. Looking back to it, it was pretty crude method as it wasn’t providing natural experience to the users who would cradle the phone in two hands.
  • Technically, it was not that reliable as we were using two cameras on a single laptop (camera on the sled and laptop’s inbuilt camera). We had to open two camera apps at the same time which was leading to a flaky performance. Choosing this method, setting up the environment itself would be a tough time or we would get a blackout in the middle of the test.

AirPlay Technology - New Wireless Method

  • Instead of the above method, you can use Apple’s AirPlay technology. It is the software which allows you stream the music or videos wirelessly to an Apple TV. All you need to do is to buy the software called Reflector ($15) and install it. This software helps you in converting the laptop into an AirPlay receiver. Using this, you can easily mirror the user’s smartphone screen onto the laptop. So, whatever you see on the smartphone will also be displayed on the laptop.
  • The AirPlay technology doesn’t require any external camera to record users’ smartphone screen. All that we need is just a screen capturing software to mirror the smartphone on to the laptop. ScreenFlow is one such software that uses laptop’s camera to record the face reactions of a user during the session.

This new wireless method would be most convenient as we don’t need any velcros or duct tapes to carry out the tests. It doesn’t look like a hack as the output will be of high-quality.

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