Choose moderated or unmoderated user testing

1. Identify whether you have an experienced user testing moderator on your team.

Moderators must balance moderating and guiding the user without prompting them, coaching them, instructing them, or fixing problems in the user experience.

2. Define your time and budget constraints.

Moderated user testing requires dedicated staff time for each test, while unmoderated testing can take place anytime, anywhere, and gets you more feedback faster.

3. Calculate the size of your existing user testing sample pool.

Unmoderated user testing platforms like Userbrain, UserTesting and Userlytics can get you access to a large pool of experienced testers quickly.

4. Identify how complex the task, product or interface is.

Moderated testing is ideal for specific tasks, low-fidelity prototypes, funnel completion tasks, or other tasks where real-time questions, subtleties of participant behavior, and real-time feedback can significantly change the outcomes.

5. Select testing software that includes built-in features that measure and quantify your study goals.

For example, the ability to measure individual and aggregate time on task if your user testing goal is tracking how long it takes someone to complete a checkout process.

6. Write user testing task instructions that give your users highly specific, custom instructions and questions.

7. Run a pilot test of a moderated user test and an unmoderated user test to discover problems or holes in your user test design or procedure.

8. Review the recordings of each pilot test cohort, noting task competition times, goals completed by the user, body language, and facial expressions - including times when users got very quiet or looked confused.

9. Choose a user testing approach that not only generated the most valuable user feedback, but also fits your team’s expertise, your timeframe and budget, and how quickly you need results.