Unmoderated studies allow the flexibility to run studies at participants’ available schedule without the presence of moderators. As much as flexible and efficient a study can be, it requires deliberation when designing the study and outlining the instructions. Clear, concise, and effective instructions can make or break your research. Below are some tips and recommendations to consider when building your next unmoderated studies.
Clarify what to expect in the study
Communicate the high level purpose of the study, how long the study will take, and what the general flow of the study would be like to let participants set expectations. Sharing a few bullet points on what to think about in advance can help participants better prepare for the session. For example, have participants recall on their most recent particular experience so that their feedback during the study is grounded in the actual context.
Make the study personalized
Because participants are staring at their own screen and speaking to themselves, unmoderated studies can feel one-directional. Giving participants a sense of contribution and having them relate to the topic area encourage them to be more engaged. For example, emphasize how honest feedback will contribute to the product development. Also, inserting guided introduction videos can make the experience more personable.
Follow-up for the hows and whys
Unless the participants are well-trained in thinking out loud, it is tempting for them to answer questions without elaboration and quickly move on to the next. Because there is no moderator to converse and follow-up with questions in unmoderated studies, it is critical to always ask for why participants would give a certain feedback or rating.
Use plain language and avoid jargons
Think about the audience that will be participating in the study. Especially avoid jargons that your product teams internally use. What is obvious to product teams that live and breath underneath the product area might not be as obvious to the participants.
Emphasize think-aloud technique for usability tasks
Encourage participants to think aloud as they go through tasks. Having them speak-out-loud the instructions verbatim ensures that they fully read the instructions without skipping any important descriptions. Moreover, having them use their mouse cursor to indicate where they’re looking at make it easy to for you to pair their reaction to specific components that they’re engaging with.
Frame the tasks without giving away too much details
With prototype tasks, don’t give away too much details in the instructions. Frame the structured tasks that focus on the end goal that the participants should ideally achieve. In other words, what is the job that your customers want to get it done by using your product or certain feature.
Pilot-test the study before publishing
Lastly, internally test out the study to make final changes and fix any potential misinterpretations that could happen. Have a second eye to review the flow and read through the instructions.