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Working in product design and need to test your digital products? Also want to give your clients the option to tune in without disturbing?
Here’s the software, hardware and brainpower we use to run these bad boys every week.

Before I start, a little caveat – this is more like a technical how-to. It’s how we at AJ&Smart set up user tests on a technical level. So this won’t be tips or philosophy on how to actually conduct them, that’s a completely different topic and enough for a different article.

But for now and without further ado, here’s what you’ll need:

Hardware

  • Computer
    (we use MacBooks or a Mac Pro)
  • Logitech C920 HD Pro Webcam
    (the best I could find, but any good webcam will do)
  • Large screen Android phone
    (if your test is local but you still need to stream it)

Software

  • Zoom — This is a conferencing tool which has way better quality than Hangouts and for people without Google Chrome it always works. Try it, you’ll see how easy and great it is. It’s also free for 1 on 1 meetings.
  • OBS — We use OBS (Mac or PC) to broadcast everything from our screen and camera(s) to the depths of the internet. This software is free and very, very powerful. It supports all major streaming websites like Twitch.tv, YouTube, Facebook Live etc. and lets you customize it.
  • Reflektor 2 — Broadcast the screen of your mobile device to your Mac. There are similar tools for PC but I work at a product design agency, these guys don’t believe in PCs.
  • YouTube Live — This is where all comes together for streaming. This link will let you create a streaming key immediately without much setup.
  • Google Hangouts — Just in case Zoom doesn’t work or you don’t have time for a complicated setup.

Part 1: The Interview

First, you want to make sure your interview is running safely and in high quality.

Set up the computer

Boot up your machine, connect the Logitech webcam, and install Zoom. You will also need one person who conducts the interview and one person who can take notes. That’s it.

Set up the tech

Open Zoom and press “Start with Video”. A window with your face in it will pop up. In the bottom bar there is a button saying “Invite”, after clicking on it you’ll see a pop up window with “Copy URL” in the bottom left corner.

Congratulations! By sending the copied link to the tester you have already created everything necessary to run a basic user test with a browser prototype. To see what’s happening on their screen, ask them to press the green button on the bottom, that says “Share screen”.

Set up an offline interview

The best way to elicit feedback from your testers is to run a test entirely offline, face to face with your target user. I know, this article is not about running tests without technology, but here’s one important side note:
Only if you have the person sitting in front of you, you can see how they naturally react to your prototype. This is especially important with physical products, where people touch your product, but also for digital products, because holding a real phone adds to the immersion into the prototype you’ve created. And the less people have to work mentally, the easier it will be for them to focus on what’s important.

Part 2: Streaming

Now you want to make sure that your team (or your client) is able to follow along with the interview. This is important because you need to take notes while the interview is taking place (could be in a different room) but you don’t want to create an awkward interrogation situation with several people sitting around the tester, observing every single movement.

Set up the computer

Assuming that you are able to run an interview based on the steps above, install OBS and Reflektor 2. These tools will help you stream everything you want over the internet. You might also have to get a YouTube account.

Stream a remote user test

This is how we test products most of the time and it only requires you to have a stable internet connection and a prototype you can send over to the user.
Basically, you install OBS, run the assistant to check bandwidth and go here to get your streaming key.

 After signing in, scroll down to reveal the key

In OBS, in the bottom right area add “Display Capture” for a source and you are ready to stream everything to YouTube. This works for Hangouts, Zoom, etc. and is easy enough to set up since only the desktop is being streamed.

Everything else will be managed through YouTube and you only need to start or stop OBS.

Sharing the stream

The link to the stream is the one of the YouTube video, I usually set the video to “Unlisted”, so only people with the link can watch it.

Set the privacy to “Unlisted” to avoid the entire world seeing it

Right click the video above and copy the URL and you’re set

Congratulations #2!
You’re now successfully streaming your test over the internet!

Stream a local user test

If you are using a phone prototype or a have a person coming to your office, you might also want to stream it. This is usually also very simple. After installing Reflektor, it can pick up the screen from your Android screencast.

In OBS, select a new video layer and choose the Reflektor window.

If you don’t want to have your computer standing around with the webcam pointing at your tester, you can use a GoPro. Simply connect it to the BlackMagic Mini Recorder and it will also show up as a video layer in OBS.

That’s it! Have fun streaming!

Thanks to Michael Smart. 

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