Wednesday, October 14, 2009

User Testing Software - no good news

In preparing for a new round of user research testing, I decided to take another look at what the offerings are to capture the testing, since the technologies change so quickly. Unfortunately, the changes are not quick enough and the solutions are still woefully unsatisfying.

For round 1, we used Camtasia which was fairly easy and captured the information as expected. The downfalls are that it captures data on only one computer (no remote view) and exporting the video for use in Final Cut Pro was a bit of a nightmare - though we are smarter about how to do that now (several hair pulling days later.)

My testing goal is to do synchronous, moderated, in person testing. There will be a test computer and a remote computer where one or more people may view from another room. It would be great if the set up allows notes to coordinate with the video. We need to see the screen and the user and capture audio. This all needs to be done real time, not remotely.

Morae - The Hercules of the bunch. Allows viewing from a second computer, note taking real time in conjunction with tasks, video recording of the users face as well as recording the screen. The downsides are cost (particularly for small businesses) and the fact that their proprietary movie software makes it incredibly difficult to export and manipulate in Final Cut Pro.

Wondering about using User Vue and Morae Manager to accomplish what Morae Recorder and Observer accomplish. I may look into that further, but am guessing there is a good reason not to.

Silverback - Fun, easy software, but it lacks robustness. You can capture images from one computer screen and video of your user during testing. There is no way to view your testing from another room or take notes in line with your testing. It also only works on a Mac. However, for less than the cost of a Morae bundle, you can buy a Mac and a copy of Silverback.

My favorite, though convoluted solution of the moment is courtesy of Todd Zaki Warfel on the IxDA site. For all of the information, visit this thread. The basic solution consists of:
  • Two (2) Intel based Macs allowing testing on both Windows and Mac
  • OS X's built in screen sharing to view the test participant's machine and opening an iChat session to get the picture-in-picture and have audio
  • Recording with SnapZPro
Do you have a favorite User Testing set up? If so, please share! The jury is still out.

As this seems to be a constant topic of conversation in the interaction design community, I plan to continue sharing my findings for research round 2!

1 comment:

Amanda said...

You may like this article from Web Site Magazine bt Brian Eisenberg that reviews usability tools

I am affiliated with but the article covers several other tools as well (including Silverback).