Mobile usability testing – a simple tech solution

The main activity for my team at the moment is making our website mobile friendly, one section at a time. First up was the postgraduate prospectus.

Changes like this need testing. We’ve been running usability sessions on desktop for years. We use Silverback to record what’s happening on the screen. It also records video and audio of our users as they complete a series of tasks on the website.

Our aim with the redesign is to make the user experience consistent across all devices so we now need to run mobile usability testing too.

How do you do that?

Finding a solution

There’s nothing I like more than problem solving. Even more so when I can find a solution with kit we already own.

I’m a slave to Apple and often use an Apple TV to mirror my iPad screen onto my TV. So I wondered if I could do something similar with an iPhone and the Mac we use for desktop testing.

My first thought was to use an Apple TV for this. We have one, but haven’t got it working on the University’s enterprise network. If you can help me out with that, please let me know in the comments.

And then OS X Yosemite and Quicktime came to my rescue. Here’s what Apple has to say about it in their list of new features:

Using QuickTime Player in OS X Yosemite, you can record the screen of an iOS device running iOS 8 via the Lightning connector.


Our mobile usability testing setup

With Quicktime open and your device connected via Lightning cable the setup is simple. All you need to do is select which camera you want to record from. Here’s a screenshot of how to do that:

Quicktime iOS recording

Selecting the device that’s attached to your computer will display its screen on your desktop.

You can then record what’s happening on the screen either in Quicktime or, as we preferred, using Silverback. Your recording will look something like this (our participants’ image has been replaced by ‘generic person icon’ to protect their privacy):

Recording your mobile usability testing session

This setup worked perfectly for us. It required no extra kit and so there were no additional costs.

More DIY solutions

For some other mobile usability testing solutions check out Barry Briggs‘ slide deck from Forefront Leeds – How to test your mobile site without spending a fortune.