In my previous articles about usability testing, I wrote about ways for businesses and organizations to perform their own usability testing with minimal cost, time, and difficulty. One of the great online features that make this possible is LiveStream.com with Procaster. No, this is not a paid endorsement. We were just so thrilled with LiveStream’s service when we did our last usability test that I had to share.
One of the key elements to being able to perform a usability test is being able to have observers watching the test in another location. This allows the test to be done with no distractions either from having several people in the room while the test is done or from the test giver having to take notes. In addition, with the observers being able to watch the test live, it saves time (the whole usability test and debriefing can be done in a few hours) and it gives the observers the ability to give suggestions to the test giver while the test is in progress.
There are several live video broadcast sites out there and several screen recorders, but I don’t know of any other live screen broadcasters. LiveStream’s Procaster allows users to broadcast your computer’s screen allowing the observers of the test to clearly see everything the test participant does on their website. At the same time, Procaster also allows you to broadcast video from the computer’s webcam so the observers can watch the reactions of the test participant while watching the screen. Very cool.
Viewed From Anywhere:
LiveStream operates online. This means that the observers for your usability test don’t have to be at the test location to observe the test. I still recommend that observers are at the physical location, but if they can’t be, this is a great option to have.
It’s always good to record your usability tests so people can review the tests later as needed. This is especially important if members of your web team are not able to attend the usability test. They can view the entire test if they want. Also, if the test team is having difficulty convincing some members of the web team (or the head of the company) about some changes they believe need to be made. They can show that person the test video to support their argument.
LiveStream and Procaster are both available for free for basic use, which is enough for your usability test. There is a fee for more advanced features, but you shouldn’t need that for your usability test. One of the advanced features that tempted us to pay was that you could password protect the broadcast (without that the broadcast is unprotected). We were a little concerned about a non-OCC person stumbling onto the test. We discovered, however, that if you don’t “verify” your channel, it’s not made public. It’s still usable, just not public. So, that gave us the same effect as the password protection and it was still free.
So, I encourage you to check out LiveStream and Procaster. It makes the more complex parts of the usability test pretty easy and, of course, it’s free.