I am a psychologist and designer, dedicated to understanding users and delivering excellent user experiences.
It is important for usability researchers to recognize the psychological factors that may influence the outcomes of usability tests such as moderator presence and monitoring equipment. Previous research has enhanced our understanding of these factors with the application of social facilitation theory. Social facilitation theory predicts improved performance on simple tasks and impaired performance on complex tasks in the presence of observers. The present study extends this approach to the case of remote usability testing, in which moderator presence and monitoring equipment are represented by the use of webcams. Remote usability tests were conducted with 14 Applied Psychology students with webcams or without webcams. Simple tasks and complex tasks were assigned and outcomes across a range of standard usability metrics were analysed.
Social Facilitation/Inhibition Effects in Remote Usability Testing