How to Engage Kids in Remote User Testing

Remote testing has always been a helpful part of the user testing tool-kit. It gives flexibility for finding participants regardless of their location or accessibility. Of course, before lockdown we couldn’t have anticipated it would become the only way to conduct research.

Lockdown has super-sped up developing our user testing skills. We had to quickly overcome challenges and develop new techniques to gain useful insight for our clients and brands.

We came up against blockers like varying international internet speeds, holding kids’ attention when they are in a space full of distractions and finding the right balance of tasks so as not to overwork participants.

We’ve run several projects in the last few months that were conducted remotely, and here are the 5 key things we’ve learnt:

1. Kids still talk freely

As kids are in their natural home environment, we’ve found they are less nervous and shy than they would be if they were in a studio. We found that we needed less of an ice-breaker and we didn’t lose the ability to get a kid speaking freely like they would during an in-home immersion.

2. You can observe more natural behaviour in under 6s

In a younger group of under 6s, an observation we made from talking to parents is how kids engage with webcams with other kids. They don’t know yet how to engage; they simply look at each other and co-exist to play in their own space. It can be a challenge as a researcher to determine whether the kids are just listening to our voice or looking at our faces, but you can observe more natural behaviour you may not have witnessed otherwise.

3. Tasks give older kids a sense of ownership and achievement

Over 6s have been really positive to work with. They are at the age where things are really important to them and they take the duty of the interview seriously. They gain more ownership of the activity as the parent is in the background of calls. Parents observed that they get a real sense of achievement from wanting to do it and delivering it.

4. Creative challenges give a focus

Creative challenges are a great way to observe and engage through play. Using challenges like polls, quizzes and heat maps have been a really useful way to keep the interview fun, retain kids’ attention and draw out interesting insight in what they are creating and delivering.

5. Tech can be a great support

Making the most of new tech like eye tracking and facial coding works especially well in this format. It can help spot nuances in comprehension and engagement specifically about content. It gives a new layer of detail to enhance research and insight.

The future of remote 

Running remote user-testing in a world-wide lockdown has been a steep learning curve but one that can bolster skills in kids research. Restrictions may be lifting country to country and new guidelines are being put in place to allow us to move back into homes, but the benefits of this type of research means it will become a key tool in our offering.