Can anyone give me any suggestions on how I can conduct a user research study with a participant who is unable to share his screen or have have it recorded? He has informed me that his computer was hacked in the past and he is hesitant in doing so.

  • Was there more to this question? It looks like your question cut off halfway. You can edit it if there is more to say. Commented Feb 4, 2020 at 21:13
  • The answer would likely depend on why they cannot share. Is it a technology restriction? Is it a legal or security restriction? Can you talk to them over the phone or through chat? Can you meet face to face?
    – Benjamin S
    Commented Feb 4, 2020 at 21:15
  • Sorry about that - I wasn't aware that the message was cut off. He told me that he experienced a "hack" of some sort to his computer in the past and is skeptical about allowing me to access his computer. He is unable to be tested in person. This participant was provided by my stakeholder and informed me that he would be a great participant based on his background.
    – Rex
    Commented Feb 6, 2020 at 20:40

3 Answers 3


I often work on projects where for security reasons we are unable to record the participants.

We've found it best (albeit expensive) to either travel to the participant or invite them to our offices.

You can perform the same tasks, but the data you capture will not be able to be reviewed in quite the same way afterwards as it will likely by hand written. We have found you need at least 2 people, one to facilitate and one to record by hand, results, insights, comments etc.

If the issue is purely the participants reluctance using their own hardware, inviting them to your office allows you to use your own hardware which you could feasibly record from. This assumes their hardware isn't relevant to the study, e.g. you weren't expecting them to use assistive technologies for example (unless you can replicate their environment).

  • 1
    Additionally, if this user represents your target audience/persona, the ethnographic research you gain from traveling to them will be very valuable. Someone who has experienced a security breach may be experiencing paranoia in ways that a traditional user test won't capture. Maybe they no longer have their passwords written on a post-it and spend 10 minutes just logging in. Or maybe they will have 20 toolbars on their browser and can barely view the site. Commented Mar 9, 2020 at 15:15

Instead of a moderated study where the researcher needs to look at the participant's screen, you may try unmoderated testing. A little like a standard questionaire, but there are tools out which offer typical usability methods, such as card sorting, A/B testing, prototype interactions, etc.

You'll get pointers if you look for "tools unmoderated usability test" with your favorite search engine.

  • Thanks I will look into that.
    – Rex
    Commented Feb 6, 2020 at 20:41

One method to help with this if the user is seriously locked down, AND it HAS to be them that you research, would be a diary study with images.

Ie a diary that the user can detail exactly what they are going through, alongside images they can take of their screen at key points in the process. (screenshots or phone camera etc.)

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