This week we began reviewing various configurations for conducting mobile testing. I particularly enjoyed watching Jenn Downs’ presentation on her past solutions and advice for testing users on mobile devices for Mailchimp. She leveraged a simple plastic clip and an adjustable USB webcam in order to record participants on their smartphones while they tested their products. She also documented countless other solutions that practitioners had come up with in the past. Examples ranged from backwards-facing MacBook webcams to more elegant solutions, involving many pieces coming together in a case.
Mailchimp is a product I have used extensively in a past sales role, and I was always impressed with how polished and user-oriented their web applications were. It was interesting to learn firsthand how some of their testing solutions were crafted. It was both funny and informational to watch some of the more resourceful approaches that were taken with capturing mobile users. It is easy to imagine a situation where you may not have all the necessary tools in order to easily record participants, and occasionally need to get creative with the occasional MacBook webcam. I am confident that we will not have to rely much longer on external cameras to capture usability testing however. There is already functionality built into iOS allowing screen capture with microphone recording, and it is only a matter of time before there are better solutions for conducting testing. It is very unnatural (and no doubt distracting) to have a physical camera rigged to cell phone that you are being tested on. The more that capturing participants is kept in the background, the more reliable your data will be.