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I'm curious about your experience with conducting user tests when end-users of your app are very specified group located in another country.

For example, when they are specific kind of US goverment employees and company is located in Europe.

I would like to test my ideas on real users, so I will make sure that what we are doing has value for them and that it meets their needs, but I have no idea how to handle such a cases.

I would be greatfull for any ideas and tips based on your experience.

  • 1
    What is your actual question here? – JonW Jun 6 '14 at 12:52
  • How to conduct a user test in such a case – user49179 Jun 6 '14 at 13:17
  • The question is: How to do user testing with remote participants. – Charles Wesley Jun 6 '14 at 15:06
  • Yes, but target group is extremly specific, so how to get access to them to see how they are working right now with their current tools, and then see how they react to new tool I'm designing. It's not about do user test remotely, because about it is a lot written in a web and books, but how to handle very specific target groups from another countries. – user49179 Jun 9 '14 at 11:48
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I'd strongly recommend outsourcing this to a user testing consultancy based in the target country: there are cultural differences between countries (and interface design) and you really want someone to do the testing who is familiar with the culture.

Additionally if you want tightly specified people, then a local consultancy is more likely to have links with recruiters who can try to get you these people.

All in all, I'm afraid this doesn't come cheap if you want a good job done.

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If you have the resources to conduct moderated (you watch the user as they complete the task and ask them questions) tests, I would recommend you do that with a few (3-5) users. It's the best way to get an overall look of whether there are glaring differences between your assumptions and what the users actually need.

Arranging sessions due to time zone differences will probably be your biggest difficulty, but you really need the initial read of your users before you can conduct more specific tests.

As to the process. I highly recommend Rosenfeld's book on Remote Research: http://rosenfeldmedia.com/books/remote-research/

I planned and conducted my first remote usability session based on tips from the book. It should have everything you need to get started.

  • I'd like to second the recommendation of the Remote Research book; the corresponding blog (remoteresear.ch) is also excellent. Both are well-suited to precisely this problem. – Sam Blake Jul 7 '14 at 16:37
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Depending on your time and budget, I have the following recommendations:

  1. If budget is no issue and you have a reasonable amount of time, hire a user research consultancy that is either based in the other country, or is highly familiar with doing research in that country. If you can find a consultancy that has expertise with governmental users, so much the better. User research consultancies in capital cities are the most likely to have such expertise.

  2. If budget is no issue, you have a reasonable amount of time, and you are fluent in the language of your target audience, you could conduct the research yourself in the other country. If you aren't fluent, you could hire a translator. I am most likely to do this if I'm working on a very technical application that I can't reasonably expect to get a consultancy up to speed on in the amount of time that we have available, and if I have enough time and budget for me to travel overseas to conduct research.

  3. If budget is an issue or if you have more limited time, conduct remote research with your users.

  4. If your budget is small or if you are on a very limited schedule, a possibility would be to use local users who might be able to represent your users. For example, you could try to find local users who worked for the government in the past. Whether this will work is highly dependent on how narrow your target audience is. I've used it successfully to stand in for international research before, with the caveat that I live in a city with a large population of immigrants, and the immigrant communities were happy to spread the word that there was someone who wanted to pay them to answer some questions about their usage of mobile devices and how their families back home use mobile devices. As with any group of participants that represents your target audience but isn't actually your target audience, you will need to be careful about the questions that you ask and the scope of your analysis based on your data.

It should be noted that, given your target audience of government employees, their contracts might preclude them from taking part in your research. It depends on the agency and how sensitive their work is.

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