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Getting Quick User Feedback: The Easiest Usability Test You'll Ever Do

[fa icon="calendar"] Apr 7, 2015 9:41:00 AM / by Molly Wolfberg

We’ve all been there. You need to get user feedback on five different things this week before a big launch. You barely have enough time to schedule the usability tests, let alone moderate them. Using a 3rd party isn’t an option.

Sometimes you don’t need 30 minutes to walk through a mockup with a user; sometimes you can’t find a time you both are free; and sometimes you just need a get hacky. Enter: the easiest usability test ever. 

I’ve been relying on a new type of user research -- the virtual, self-moderated user interview (now accepting more creative titles). When you have a mockup that is relatively straight forward and doesn’t involve a ton of follow up questions, it’s a great opportunity to give your beta program members or sophisticated users the reins. 

Note: this type of research is not for most situations. It’s mainly to get quick, insightful feedback on a straightforward mockup or current / live flow in your product. This method of research should only be used for the most simplistic of examples for these reasons.


The process is easy: you ask users to record themselves walking through the mockup.

Here are the steps I use when running these types of tests. 


Step 1 - The Email 

I think it’s important to give users the option of communication. They might want to hop on the phone or just reply via email instead of recording themselves. If they don’t have a preference, I always ask that they record themselves. It gives them the opportunity to take the time whenever they want to, rather than finding a time that works for both.

Here’s an example of an email I sent to introduce the opportuity to give feedback:


There are always going to be users who don't feel comfortable recording themselves, and that's fine. Any type of feedback is good feedback, and if they request a call or just reply via email, there's no loss there. 



Step 2 - Directions 

It’s essential to be clear about the directions once a user agrees to record themselves walking through the mockup, because you won’t be there to clarify in the moment.

I email the user with the location of the mockup, any questions I have for them BEFORE they look at it, and the how to upload their video after they’re done recording. I use Wistia (duh!) to host the mockup and questions. Here’s an example of the directions I’ve laid out for a customer:


Feel free to make your answers as brief as you want, and as little time as you want! This should hopefully be an easy thing.

Before looking at the mockup... 

 - Walk me through how you currently use the Replace Video functionality in Wistia.

Head on over to the mockup here. The questions I'd love you to answer are in the description below the image for easy walk through. 

If you could record yourself doing this whenever you have a spare 3-5 minutes, that'd be perfect. I just added you as a user to so you can easily upload the video. Let me know if I can specify anything else and I look forward to hearing what you have to share.



Step 3 - Make it easy for the user 

They are, in fact, moderating themselves through this exercise. Put the questions & mockup in the same place. Give them access to a Dropbox account or Google Drive folder where they can upload the video themselves. Here’s the mockup & questions (in one place) in my Wistia account:



Step 4 - Share the results internally 

You’re giving your team actual facetime with users - and that’s awesome! Make sure you still summarize the data like you would with any other user test, but share the videos too. The inflection, facial expressions and other perks that come with an actual video of the user will be even more valuable for team members who don’t typically talk to users.

Here’s what my Wistia account looks like. I gave the users access to upload the videos themselves to this account. I can now send this page to my team internally so they can watch the videos themselves!



If you ever feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day for all the user research requests coming your way, consider letting the user be in control of their feedback. Giving users the opportunity to record themselves and provide feedback on their own time, in a more visual way, is a great opportunity. You can conduct more research AND let the user feel like they’re truly helping.


Does anyone else collect user research in any unconventional ways?
Comment below!



Topics: Usability Testing, ux, user research

Molly Wolfberg

Written by Molly Wolfberg

Molly mainly talks about dogs, donuts & UX research. She's currently running user research at Wistia, a video software company for businesses.