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Editor’s Note: Think Locally, Test Remotely

Remote testing, the special concern of this issue, is increasingly important to usability professionals, especially (but not only), among those involved with the development of web-based and mobile products/services that reach across great distances—even national borders—and large communities of people who may be varied in their locations, demographic characteristics, objectives, and preferences. Although smaller-scale quantitative and qualitative evaluations continue to offer great value and to be a strong focus of many companies that are developing or improving products and services, remote testing offers distinct advantages, especially for larger corporations that lead in product/service innovation. Well-known names such as Apple, eBay, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo!, are examples of companies already
incorporating remote testing techniques.

With remote testing, one can effectively and efficiently evaluate specific functions and contents as well as preferences and overall emotional/appeal characteristics. Moreover, it becomes feasible to evaluate 100, 200, or even 1,000 participants in a way that would be cumbersome with other techniques. Companies in diverse markets of entertainment, finance, healthcare, travel, and education, among others, all seem to be moving toward embracing these methods.

Last year, I organized an open, non-competitive UPA 2008 SIG discussion on the subject of remote testing, which was kindly hosted by Keynote Systems, one industry vendor. We now follow up with an issue devoted to case studies and practical— as well as theoretical—discussions of these techniques based on experiences in several vertical markets. Our guest editor, Tomer Sharon, has selected excellent contributions by Robert Barat, Norbert Elliot, Carol Farnsworth, Susan Fowler, Kamal Joshi, Jurek Kirakowski, Sauli Laitinen, Gavin Lew, Alfonso de la Nuez, Tony Tulathimutte, Cyd Harrell, and Tom Tullis.

We hope you enjoy this valuable contribution to UX’s continuing coverage of professional best practices and next practices.