If you do research often, you probably resorted to remote research in the past months. Despite that it’s a great alternative, it’s just not like the real thing. You and your team aren’t in the same room. It is harder to see the body language of your audience. And on top of that, some studies just cannot be carried out remotely.
Now that the measures in most countries are being relaxed, it is time to reopen your UX lab and meet your target audience in person again. But how do you facilitate safe research for everyone? That’s not too difficult – with a few adjustments you can make your lab comfortable and safe for researchers, observers and last but not least: your participants. We’ll show you how.
Besides following the latest restrictions of your government, you should stick to the following general measures:
- Encourage everyone (colleagues, customers and participants) to come with their own transport. Tell them where they can find the closest parking garage.
- Create clear instructions for each visitor so they feel comfortable travelling to your location.
- Ask each visitor to wash their hands directly after entering your location. Also let them hang their own jackets.
- Set out clear walking routes and/or passage points so everyone can keep enough distance.
- Serve individually packed cookies and snacks to prevent someone from touching someone else’s food.
- Clean the whole location more often. Especially the parts that are used most, like toilets, door handles and coffee machines.
- Don’t allow anyone to enter the location if they have any Covid19 symptoms.
That’s right – no big surprises. But we’re rather safe than sorry and repeat them.
In the UX lab
Finally, meeting face to face with your target audience again. You want to make it as relaxed as possible for both parties. As the UX lab is the space where the most people walk in and out, there need to be some clear rules and arrangements;
- Provide alcohol tissues to clean surfaces and devices between each session.
- To save you from some cleaning after each time you used the computer, it’s easiest if both you and the participant use a different keyboard and mouse.
- Depending on how big the room is, you can either set up your equipment with enough space between the interviewer and participant or you can use a plexiglass screen.
- Make sure the room is well ventilated.
In the observation room
There’s always a lot going on in the observation room while the interviews take place. So the more space the better. But even if you have a large observation room, you still have to make some adjustments.
- Mark spaces where people can sit and observe while maintaining the necessary distance.
- Let everyone bring their own lunch or serve it at a central place. If you serve lunch, let your host wear gloves while preparing. Provide disinfectant and let people grab their sandwich with a kitchen tong.
- Set up a livestream for people who can’t come to the location.
- Create a chat (Whatsapp, Slack, teams, etc.) to keep your team connected during the interviews.
- If you have observers watch via the livestream, involve them during the day. It’s a good idea to have a start-up video call in the morning to talk through objectives. Let them also join in between each session and after the last session. Actively ask them about their observations to make them feel like they’re part of the team.
Be very conscious of the way you recruit. Switching back to remote might do the trick, although elderly audiences may have trouble while setting up the right equipment. When inviting participants to the lab, you need to take the following into account:
- Show participants what measures you have taken to make them feel at ease.
- Screen out people who are tied to public transport.
- Avoid working with elderly people or people who have a higher risk of getting ill.
- Perform additional health checks – in the screener, but also on the phone the day prior to the test.
- Consider reimbursing participants travel expenses and parking costs to make it easier for them to travel with their own transport.
- Plan extra spare participants or floaters to fill no-shows or people who got sick in the time between your first planning and the field workday.
- Reserve enough time between each interview. It’ll avoid crowds and give you time to do a round of cleaning.
- Make sure participants don’t feel guilty about cancelling the interview when having any COVID like symptoms. If possible, give them the option to participate remotely.
Now that you’re all set, it’s time to pick up the conversation with your beloved audience again. But please be aware. Different measures are effective in each country, so better double check if these adjustments would help you to make safe research possible.