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User Research in the Time of Coronavirus

Keep calm and do remote research.

Depending on where you live, the industry you work in, you may have experienced a collective escalation in the concern about Coronavirus, aka COVID-19. We certainly have here at User Interviews. 

As research advocates, we’re always on team discover what’s true; don’t panic. What we know is that markets are reacting, and places of business are adjusting. Many conferences have been cancelled or postponed, and many teams are beginning to work remotely. 

We’ve been a fully remote team for over 2 years, and the slight majority of research our clients conduct is held remotely too. We’ve learned a few things about making remote work in general, and in research in particular, over the years, and now seemed like an especially useful time to round up all our best learnings on the subject.

Conduct Remote Research

If you’re concerned it will be harder to recruit participants for in-person studies in the current environment, remote sessions can be a great way to mitigate any lost research. Additionally, remote research sessions tend to have higher fill rates, lower no-show rates, and require lower incentives. We LOVE remote research if it’s a viable option for you, and even if it isn’t your typical go-to, there’s no time like the present to give it the old college try. 

Running Amazing Remote UX Research Sessions with Sonya Badigian

This has been one of our sleeper hit episodes of Awkward Silences. Sonya Badigian has years of remote dominant research experience. Listen or read her top tips for making remote sessions as successful as possible. 

3 Tips to Improve Your Remote User Interviews

In this article, Ritika Puri, also experienced in remote user interviews, offers three simple tips to make remote research effective. 

The Very Best Tool for User Research Video Conferencing

A hallmark of remote user research is video conferencing software. Here we share our top pick for remote research. For more user research tools to round out your remote tech stack, check out our in-depth resource on user research tools, or our 2022 user research tools map

The Ultimate Guide to User Research Incentives

When you cut commute time, the inconvenience of actually going somewhere, fighting traffic, or now, braving the potentially scary world of humans and germs, you’re fundamentally asking less of your participants, all things being equal. And asking less means you can pay less. You may be able to do more research in less time for less money. Turn those lemons into lemonade. Check out our incentives guide for specific guidance on how much to incentivize, depending on who you are recruiting, and how long your test is. 

Working Remotely

If you or your team are new to working remotely, don’t feel like you need to start from scratch. As remote becomes more and more popular, there are better and better tools, frameworks, advice to make it work well for every kind of team. 

The Hierarchy of Remote Work Needs

When you’re shipping product, not all user stories, requirements, what have you, are created equal. When it comes to working remotely, make sure your base needs are covered, and work your way up the pyramid of needs. If you’re new to remote work, don’t expect to find self actualization on your first day. Do expect to enjoy not commuting. 

The Struggle (and Benefits) of Remote Work are Real

Remote work isn’t all ponies and rainbows all the time for everybody. Here we get real about the best and worst parts of remote work. Depending on how long you’re working remote, you may experience a large or small number of these, but we hope this will give you a sense of what you can expect. 

The User Interviews Culture Handbook

Nearly a year ago we penned v1 of our culture handbook. Since we’re a fully remote company, remote work plays prominently in our culture. Here, among other things, we talk about how we make remote an asset to our culture, with tips you can steal on communication, and being effective. 

Top Remote Work Resources 

We don’t claim to be the very foremost experts on remote work yet. Here are a few excellent resources on remote work to peruse as well. 

The Ultimate Guide to Remote Work by Zapier

The Remote Work Report by FYI

Remote by Basecamp

Last thoughts

While we hope life returns to “normal” as soon as possible, we’re also bullish on people, teams, and organizations getting a positive taste of the benefits of remote research and work, and maybe wanting to hold onto some of that more permanently. Put those hours of commuting into your work, family, or self. Turn those carbon emissions into…. fewer carbon emissions. Get more done. Live your best life. 

Erin May
SVP, Marketing

Left brained, right brained. Customer and user advocate. Writer and editor. Lifelong learner. Strong opinions, weakly held.

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