I'm going to do user testing (usability testing, like Steve Krug does). I want :

  • my co-workers to listen/watch the test live, while I'm doing it, in a seperate room.
  • to record the screen and users' mouse movements (and possibly the user's face) to watch later. ideally I want to be able to extract abstracts from the recording to show to colleagues.

I think Steve Krug suggests Camtasia and maybe Gotomeeting. I have used BB Flashback in the past to record the screen. But I never had a live observation room before. I can use either a PC or a Mac laptop to run the test on. There will be Mac laptops in the observation room.

  • Will you be using eye tracking?
    – Nic
    Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 15:19
  • If I could, I would. But right now, I want to: (1) record the screen, the face of user and sounds. (2) have all that play on a remote computer for observers to watch live (3) and obviously have the recording I can edit and send to my bosses. Commented Jun 10, 2012 at 22:23

4 Answers 4


One suggestion I would have is to have a second person marking critical incidents times in the mirrored room.

The biggest job doing usability testing is editing the video afterwards and finding the critical issues. Having a rough idea of where they are really helps.

It will be a rewarding experience and you will learn alot. Highlight videos are great. Especially if you can group clips of differnt people using the same bits of the software and having similar experiences.


  • Agreed that the biggest job is analysing the video. However what's significant might only become apparent once you've tested a number of users. I'd be wary of just jumping in on the more obvious things.
    – PhillipW
    Commented Jun 16, 2012 at 21:45
  • Agreed... however having an overview of the data makes planning your analysis afterwards much easier. But yes you definitely need to look at the whole lot in the context of all the users. Amazing what you see second time round anyway! Commented Jun 16, 2012 at 22:07

It's going to be a great experience and most likely eye-opening for your co-workers! The following setup worked very well for me (with one exception):

  • PC with build in webcam and Morae software installed
  • Morae captures the screen activity and videos the users face, is capable to stream it so another PC and also records it
  • PC in the observation room receiving the stream, connected to a projector
  • everybody in the room can see the users' face, can hear the user talking and can observe the screen activity
  • lots of sticky notes and pens in the observation room for observers to immediately write down their findings

The exception/downside in this setup is Morae: It's expensive, requires a PC on both ends and is not a very usable software itself. Silverback for Mac is a great alternative but, as far as I know, it can't do live streaming.

It's a simple but very effective setup. Would be great if somebody could add software alternatives, if there are any.

  • Morae works well - though trying to use the markup tools is a distraction from actually running the testing. I do the analysis later. I also run a backup audio recording - so if there is some technical disaster you've still got some data to work from rather than losing the whole session...
    – PhillipW
    Commented Jun 16, 2012 at 21:54

I've used join.me to observe although that only let you see the users screen and not the users face. We did not get the sound to work though. It worked fine on other computers except our test computers. Solved that with a 15 meter audio cable through the office.

If it's possible I would just have a big screen in the observation room. I used that and I think that helped me focus on what was going on better. It also made conversation afterwards easier and you could point out interesting things that happen. Or I could ask a colleague to briefly explain something.

The downside is that the observers can influence each other and you might miss some important findings.


To share screens, I used Webex (the free version). It worked fine, except for 2 tests out of 8: the sound stopped working, we could only share the screen, which was very annoying.

To record the session, I used Silverback. I know I should use PCs to run tests because it's more common, but it is more convenient for me. It worked well.

  • If you're on a budget and don't want to buy Silverback, using Mac (I agree that using PC is -in principle- better because users are more likely to use PCs), you can record screen and voice by just using QuickTime (it's built-in your Mac. Launch both "File/new screen recording and new audio recording). I had issues with Webex before as well. Tried a couple times, did not work very well. Commented Feb 9, 2015 at 7:44

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