Running Remote Moderated Usability Tests


Online usability tests

At this time remote moderated usability testing  gives researchers a fantastic opportunity to reach a diverse group of respondents and adopt a more flexible approach to user testing.

There are lots of different and very user friendly platforms that you can use to facilitate user testing. For example Zoom and Skype.

It is however also important to consider how to ensure that these sessions run smoothly.

Please find some tips below!

  • Expect and prepare for technical issues. Some sessions happen without a hitch but unfortunately things happen! It is better to adopt a relaxed attitude (it helps if you leave a good buffer in between sessions) and to  make sure that the respondent is aware that you know that sometimes there are glitches and you are there to guide them through any connectivity issues with Zoom, Skype etc.
  • Be prepared. Do a mock interview with a colleague or friend. Consider how a remote session differs from face to face testing and how you will have to adopt different strategies to share information with participants.  You may for example have to email or send a link to the consent form ahead of the session.
  • Are your respondents tech-savvy? For remote testing, it is advisable to recruit respondents who are confident using the internet. Remote testing may not be the best way to interview respondents with low digital literacy as they will struggle to understand how to use Skype, Zoom etc. They may also be more concerned about online security and may for example be unwilling to screen share with you.
  • When things go wrong.  It is always a good idea to ensure that you leave 30 minutes between sessions to ensure that if things go wrong you have enough time to resolve the issue and move forward. Perhaps if a respondents mic is not working you can use their mobile phone for audio and continue to screen share. Be prepared to adopt different strategies to salvage the situation and to make sure that you get some feedback  from the interview.
  • The recruitment agency is there to help at Recruitment for Research we get involved with helping respondents to prepare for online testing.  We always ask respondents to test the meeting links before the session and ensure that they are working etc. We are also well versed in helping respondents to download Skye and Zoom and we emphasise to them that we are here to help them if they run into any issues. This allows our clients to focus on interviewing our recruits and getting the feedback that they need.

How the Market Research Sector is Going Green

The Market Research Society, the UK professional body for research, insight, and analytics, is leading a Net Zero Pledge campaign which calls for research organisations and teams to be net zero by 2026.

The Market Research Society, the UK professional body for research, insight, and analytics, is leading a Net Zero Pledge campaign which calls for research organisations and teams to be net zero by 2026. The Pledge was launched after the MRS Sustainability Council, established in 2020, was tasked with reviewing the sustainability issues facing the research sector. They found that the two key responsibilities of the research sector were to mitigate their impact on the environment and to help customers understand their own impact and recommend solutions.

Businesses can commit to the 4 key aims of the Net Zero Pledge:

  1. To ensure they are net zero by 2026
  2. To track and publish their carbon emissions and work to reduce and offset those emissions. This includes publishing these figures annually in the Industry Report.
  3. To collaborate across the research sector and beyond to share learning and best practice to help achieve these goals.
  4. To support and encourage conversations on sustainability and environmental issues from all viewpoints, including employees, partners and clients.

Dozens of firms have signed up the pledge since its launch in 2021, including leading firms such as Ipsos MORI and GfK. The groundswell of support for this climate initiative demonstrates largescale support in the research sector for going green, but on a practical level, what does this mean?

The MRS have put together a guide for research organisations to help them on their sustainability journey and to overcome some of the most common barriers. Their guidance includes:

  1. Finding climate champions

With the recognition that the development of sustainable business practice suffers from being ‘everybody’s second priority’, the MRS recommends that businesses put together a dedicated team to work on strategy and to ensure that time is specifically allocated to the project. The team should consist of people with different skillsets and responsibilities, including leadership, finance and facilities managers, to ensure that a range of skills are available to make the project a success.

  1. Green your supply chain

The MRS advises that there are huge opportunities to make sustainable choices beyond what you may traditionally consider. Whilst flights and energy usage are obvious areas for improvement, wider business spending on areas such as staff entertainment, client gifts and even pensions are invaluable areas to improve your carbon impact. Working with suppliers who are also actively working towards a net zero target is another way to achieve this goal. Ultimately, ‘greening your supply chain’ should lead to sustainability being embedded into purchasing decisions for each business.


  1. Educating your staff

The MRS discusses the ‘say-do’ gap between sustainable values and unsustainable behaviour, that even people who are concerned about the environment may perpetuate. They have also identified a gap in knowledge, with many people being misinformed about the impacts of, and solutions to, the climate crisis. Businesses should therefore make a commitment to educate staff on the climate crisis so they can be actively engaged in the work towards a more sustainable workplace.


The guidance set out by the MRS constitutes an important starting point for businesses keen to start their sustainability journey, and hopefully by 2026, we will see real change across the research sector.


What is social listening – and how can it help your brand?

Social listening is the practice of collecting data from social media platforms on your chosen topic. This data is then analysed to find trends and insights into consumer behaviour and preferences. Not unlike conducting market research through focus groups and surveys – this simply means that the consumer insights and opinions are already available, you just have to find them.

This technique can be hugely valuable to your brand, as it enables you to find out what the public is really thinking away from hashtags or mentions. As the conversation is ongoing, it is important to measure the insights against current events and seasonal trends to understand what influenced these topics and conversations, and from these insights you can gain a deeper understanding of consumer opinion to use in your marketing strategy.

The most significant advantages of social listening are the opportunity it provides to understand your audience, getting ahead of potential PR issues and curating a more tailored and appropriate marketing strategy.

The opportunity provided by social listening to gain a deeper understanding of your audience cannot be overstated, as it produces both demographic data to understand the nature of your audience, as well as understand their values and opinions on trending topics. Is your audience particularly concerned by sustainability and environmental issues, or does affordability take greater precedence? This data can help you to understand their preferences and place more emphasis on the brand values that matter most to your customers in your content. Social listening also means that you can more effectively manage your brand reputation online and get ahead of negative comments that can rapidly affect your image. The more immediate nature of the data gathered through social listening can also help you to understand how such situations unfold, and how this can be avoided in the future.

When can social listening be used?

Social listening can be helpful in a variety of situations. It can be used as part of an ongoing strategy, but it can also help you achieve more specific aims such as crisis management and understanding the reception of a particular marketing campaign.

If you choose to use an ongoing approach, make sure you are continually re-evaluating your datasets and how you collect this data, to ensure you are not accidentally picking up unrelated conversations that can affect the usefulness of your insights.

Social listening does not necessarily need to revolve around your brand and can be used to trend-watch so you can understand what topics are driving high customer engagement across different platforms. This also means that you can optimise the effectiveness of taking part in popular trends on platforms such as TikTok, making the engagement feel more authentic and less clumsy.

Ultimately, social listening is a highly effective market research tool, especially as it makes use of authentic engagement with your brand, producing insights which may not be provided through traditional market research tools. Importantly, it also means you can collect the perspectives of people who may be harder to reach through market research recruitment. Narrowing down your specific market research goal may be beneficial to your overall insights, but an ongoing commitment to social listening can lead to a deeper and more meaningful understanding of your audience.