OK/Cancel recently published a “Guide to Remote Usability Testing”:http://www.ok-cancel.com/archives/article/2006/07/guide-to-remote-usability-testing.html which provides an excellent introduction to the subject.
Usability testing has always been a challenge for our team due to its time-intensive nature and our lack of resources.
Remote usability using some of the tools and services listed in the article might be an ideal way to get the testing we need done in a time-efficient and cost-effective manner.
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know a great deal about remote usability, so it was something of a surprise to see how sophisticated some of these web-based services are. Check out “Ethnio”:http://ethnio.com, “MindCanvas”:http://themindcanvas.com/ and “RelevantView”:http://www.relevantview.com/usabilitytesting.htm for examples.
Ethnio looks very affordable; however I couldn’t say as far as the other vendors are concerned because they neglected to put any pricing information on their web sites.
Don’t they know that this was one of the “Top 10 Web Design Mistakes”:http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20021223.html way back in 2002? It drives me nuts as a customer not to have even an idea of how much something is likely to cost.
The “Remote Usability Testing Wiki”:http://remoteusability.com/ is also an excellent resource for those interested in learning more about this topic.