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Deciding if You Need a Dedicated Usability Lab – Part 2

Now that you have determined your goals and have an idea of your resources, it’s time to get to the question of building the lab.  Of the many options for where and when to do usability testing, nothing beats the convenience of having a dedicated lab space at your disposal. But do you really need one?

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Things to Consider

As you begin thinking about a lab, consider the test methods you are likely to use, how often you will be testing and resources and equipment or technology already in place.

Ask the following:

  • What kind of testing you will do?
  • How often will you test?
  • Is testing space available?
  • Who do you have on your team, or who is available to your team?
  • Will you test in more than one location?

Scenarios for Lab Set up with Available Lab Space

The table below shows a number of possible test scenarios. They are by no means inclusive, but they may help you find test scenarios similar to yours.

Scenario

Your Day-to-Day Test Activities

Lab Recommendations

A

  • You test several times a year.
  • You have the human resources in place (a moderator & observer/note taker) to support testing.
  • You have access to a physical space for testing.
  • Your target audience(s):
    • Are members of the general public, readily available or highly specialized groups
    • May or may not be located in your geographic area
    • May or may not be available during normal business hours

You might want to consider:

  • A permanent physical lab with remote testing capability or
  • A portable lab with remote testing capability

B

  • You test several times a year
  • You have the human resources in place (a moderator & observer/note taker) to support testing.
  • You have access to a physical space for testing
  • Your target audience(s):
    • Are not readily available groups
    • May not be located in your geographic area or may be unable to come to your location
    • May or may not be available during normal business hours

You might want to consider:

  • A portable lab with remote testing capability

C

  • You test once or twice a year.
  • You have the human resources in place (a moderator & observer/note taker) to support testing.
  • You have access to a physical space for testing
  • Your target audience(s):
    • Are members of the general public, readily available or highly specialized groups
    • May or may not be located in your geographic area
    • May or may not be available during normal business hours

You might want to consider:

  • A portable lab with remote testing capability or
  • Partnering with a local UX firm with testing equipment that you could rent/borrow

D

  • You test once or twice a year.
  • You have the human resources in place (a moderator & observer/note taker) to support testing.
  • You  have access to a physical space that you can use for testing
  • Your target audience(s):
    • Are highly specialized groups [e.g. school administrators or critical care nurses]
    • May not be located in your geographic area
    • May not be available during normal business hours

You might want to consider:

  • A permanent physical lab with remote testing capability or
  • A portable lab with remote testing capability or
  • Partnering with UX firm with testing equipment that you could rent/borrow

E

  • You test once or twice a year.
  • You do not have the human resources in place (a moderator & observer/note taker) to support testing.
  • You have access to a physical space that you can use for testing
  • Your target audience(s):
    • Are members of the general public, readily available or highly specialized groups
    • May or may not be located in your geographic area
    • May or may not be available during normal business hours

You might want to consider:

  • Contracting a local UX firm to support testing at your location

Scenarios for Lab Set up without Available Lab Space

Scenario

Your Day-to-Day Test Activities

Lab Recommendations

A

  • You test several times a year
  • You have the human resources in place (a moderator & observer/note taker) to support testing.
  • You do not have access to a physical space that you can use for testing
  • Your target audience(s):
    • Are members of the general public, readily available or highly specialized groups
    • May or may not be located in your geographic area
    • May or may not be available during normal business hours

You might want to consider:

  • A portable lab with remote testing capability

B

  • You test once or twice a year.
  • You have the human resources in place (a moderator & observer/note taker) to support testing.
  • You do not have access to a physical space that you can use for testing
  • Your target audience(s):
    • Are not readily available groups
    • Are not located in your geographic area or may be unable to come to your location
    • May or may not be available during normal business hours

You might want to consider:

  • A portable lab with remote testing capability or
  • Partnering with a local UX firm with testing equipment that you could rent/borrow

C

  • You test once or twice a year.
  • You have the human resources in place (a moderator & observer/note taker) to support testing.
  • You do not have access to a physical space that you can use for testing
  • Your target audience(s):
    • Are highly specialized groups [e.g. school administrators or critical care nurses]
    • May not be located in your geographic area
    • May not be available during normal business hours

You might want to consider:

  • A portable lab with remote testing capability or
  • Partnering with a local UX firm with testing equipment that you could rent/borrow

D

  • You test once or twice a year.
  • You do not have the personnel [moderator & observer/note taker] to support testing
  • You do not have access to a physical space that you can use for testing
  • Your target audience(s):
    • Are members of the general public, readily available groups or highly specialized groups
    • May or may not be located in your geographic area
    • May only be available during times outside normal business hours [e.g. evenings or weekends]

You might want to consider:

  • Contracting a local UX firm to test for you at their location using their personnel and equipment

* These scenarios assume you can recruit or can have participants recruited for your testing.

Now that you have an idea of whether you need a lab Part 3 will explore constructing one. 

We’re curious, what have your challenges been in deciding whether to create a dedicated space for a lab?  Do any of the scenarios above fit with your experience or are you and your team dealing with something else entirely?  Share your thoughts in a comment below.

 

Comments

Great options table!
Thanks for the recommendations. I feel that crowd testing also can be recommended for those who can't afford to build a dedicated lab or setup a portable test lab . Do you agree ?
Thank you for the awesome post. Keep up the good work!
Very Useful information for every UX designers. This Information really turned different dimension UX design

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