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Resource: Hold the Phone: A Primer on Remote Mobile Usability Testing

Discussion Topic(s) Addressed: Usability testing with mobile devices/applications

Resource Summary:

  • This resource is an article that was created specifically to discuss how to perform remote mobile usability testing.
  • The article was written in 2016, so the testing tools and the features cited in the article are slightly out of date. However, the general approach presented in the article is still applicable for planning a remote mobile usability testing today.
  • The article provides 4 potential configurations for setting up remote usability testing with mobile devices.

Other Key Features of the Resource:

  • In addition to the 4 potential configurations, the article includes the following:
    • Criteria that the authors used to assess six different potential testing tools.
    • Results from rating these six potential tools against the authors' assessment criteria.
  • The article also discusses the following lessons learn:
    • Planning ahead is key
      • Work with the participants in advance to ensure they are comfortable with the test equipment and process.
    • Practice makes perfect
      • Test administrators should also rehearse before the test sessions to be familiar with the test equipment and process.
    • Always have a backup
      • Prepare alternatives to allow testing to continue if technical issues arise during the test sessions.
    • Put participants at ease
      • Be clear and support to the participants throughout the testing process.
    • Tailor recruiting
      • Design test sessions based on the target technical platforms and user personas can help streamline the test setup and process.
  • The article includes a link to the slide deck that the authors used to present on this topic at the international User Experience Professional Association (UXPA) conference in Seattle in 2016.

Citation for the Resource:
Douglas, D. and Wilson, T. (2016). Hold the phone: A primer on remote mobile usability testing. User Experience Magazine, 16(3). Retrieved from

Additional/Related Resources:

The following resource provides clear, structured suggestions for not only mobile usability testing, but also usability testing in general.

  1. Mifsud, Justin. (n.d.). Usability testing of mobile applications: A step-by-step guide. Retrieved from
    1. Key Takeaways:
      1. There are 7 sections to the guide:
        1. What is mobile application usability testing
        2. Setting the objectives of the usability test
        3. Creating the tasks that will be performed
        4. Creating the test documents
        5. Finding and recruiting test participants
        6. Implementing the usability testing method
          1. Includes suggested test equipment and session setup
        7. Reporting usability test findings
      2. The resource contains a recommended structure for putting together a usability test plan.
      3. The resource includes references to the following additional resources:
        1. Blog Posts:
          1. The Evolution Of Mobile App Design
          2. Usability Metrics – A Guide To Quantify The Usability Of Any System
          3. Reporting Usability Test Results
        2. Courses from the Interaction Design Foundation:
          1. Mobile User Experience (UX) Design
          2. User Experience: The Beginner’s Guide
          3. Conducting Usability Testing

The following resource addresses how to set up in-person mobile usability testing.

  1. Budiu, Raluca. (2014, February 9). Usability testing for mobile is easy. Retrieved from
    1. Key Takeaways:
      1. Similar to the main resource, although this resource was originally published in 2014, the general strategy presented in the resource is still appropriate when putting together an in-person usability testing for mobile devices/mobile applications.
      2. The resource provides specific recommendations for:
        1. Camera options
        2. Test environment considerations
        3. User selections
      3. The resource also includes a 3-minute video demonstrating a set up that could be used for conducting usability testing on mobile devices.

This resource review is created as a response to the "Best practices for mobile development and mobile testing" topic posted to the forum.