When to run unmoderated user testing

November 28, 2022

When to run unmoderated user testing

The most important benefit of unmoderated research is that there is no real-time interaction required between the product team and the study participants. Scheduling for user interviews is usually the heaviest bottleneck during the user research process so using unmoderated testing can significantly increase the research velocity of your team, allowing you to collect insights within just a few hours instead of days or weeks. Furthermore, unmoderated research can be very effective in gathering simple and quick responses from a large group of users, as conducting moderated interviews with many users becomes very cumbersome for the product team.

While unmoderated research can be a powerful tool, there are some key limitations of unmoderated usability testing according to N/N group:

  • Early-prototype testing is difficult without a moderator to explain and help participants recover from errors or limitations of the prototype.
  • Without a moderator, participants tend to be less engaged and behave less realistically in tasks that depend on imagination, decision making, or emotional responses.

Secondly, many existing survey solutions are not purposefully designed for product UX research, because they don’t integrate well with design & prototyping tools such as Figma and they are not designed to allow for contextual feedback, specifically triggered based on user actions and events.

While there are few unmoderated user testing tools available in the market that could help mitigate some of these issues, Hubble is building the nex-gen OS for product research that will help product and design teams collect contextual product feedback from actual users in the product. Hubble offers some unique features that can help product teams:

  • Hubble allows teams to recruit real users for unmoderated testing through its SDK. Therefore, teams don’t have to rely on external panelists which can be expensive and disconnected from the real product
  • Hubble offers ways to embed videos on the unmoderated tests so that product team members can add a more personal feel 
  • Test creators can prompt testers to opt in to moderated follow up interviews after finishing their unmoderated sessions

So, when is a good time to run unmoderated testing with Hubble?

When you have a design concept to validate:

Hubble allows product design teams to quickly validate early design concepts. Users can embed prototypes and design concepts into the studies so that testers can provide feedback on specific UI/feature elements. In addition, Hubble offers prototype heatmap data, video and audio recordings to help teams understand the specific user paths in the prototype.

Embed Figma prototype to create interactive survey

When you are preparing for an alpha/beta feature

Before fully releasing a feature you can use Hubble to show prototypes & early concepts to your most engaged users. This will help product teams quickly gather user feedback before fully releasing the feature, and it will also help you discover who are the users that are most excited in testing the feature.

Select UI elements to trigger modal in-product

When you launch a new feature and need continuous feedback

Once new features are introduced, Hubble can become a continuous engine that helps product teams collect user feedback. While A/B testing tools can be helpful, new feature introductions can be trickier to measure through an A/B test. Hubble can help product teams continuously gather qualitative insights from real users when new features are introduced. Hubble is also planning to introduce workflows so that qualitative insights can be collected automatically in conjunction with a feature update..

Publishing study via Hubble Web SDK

To summarize, unmoderated testing requires less time and effort than moderated testing during the session, but fastidious advance planning is needed before the research begins so that it can be effective.

Unmoderated research works very well if you have qualitative questions that need to be validated quickly from a large sample size. Hubble makes it easier and faster for you to get started with unmoderated testing by providing you with everything you need in one platform.

In the next article, we will talk about how to create a powerful usability test through Hubble.

If you have any questions or comments about Hubble, please do not hesitate to reach us at hello@hubble.team or visit www.hubble.team for some additional information. We are looking forward to helping you and your team build amazing products through Hubble.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I run unmoderated tests?

The frequency of running unmoderated tests can vary based on factors such as the product development stage, project timelines, and the need for continuous feedback. A general guideline is to incorporate unmoderated tests regularly throughout the product development cycle. The cadence of unmoderated tests should align with the iterative nature of product development and the desire for continuous improvement.

How do I screen participants for quality data?

Make sure to clearly define the target audience that fits the needs of your research. Having specific criteria and desired characteristics allow the recruited participants to better align with the research objective. Translate the criteria into screener questions so that the ideal participants could be filtered through and recruited for the study.

To learn more about writing an effective screener, refer to creating effective screener surveys for quality participants.

How long should unmoderated studies take?

The duration of unmoderated studies can vary depending on the complexity of the research objectives and the tasks participants are required to perform. In general, it's advisable to keep unmoderated studies relatively short to maintain participant engagement and prevent fatigue. Studies ranging from 15 to 30 minutes are often considered optimal, allowing participants to provide valuable insights without feeling overwhelmed.

How do I create effective tasks for unmoderated usability testing?

Tasks should be clear, concise, and representative of real user scenarios. Clearly communicate the goals, and structure tasks to assess specific interactions. Pilot testing can help refine tasks before the actual study.

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Jin is a UX researcher at Hubble that helps customers collect user research insights. Jin also helps the Hubble marketing team create content related to continuous discovery. Before Hubble, Jin worked at Microsoft as a UX researcher. He graduated with a B.S. in Psychology from U.C. Berkekley and an M.S in Human Computer Interaction from University of Washington.

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