Remote Research: Making Design More Inclusive

Remote research is changing the game allowing for the design of more diverse and inclusive user experiences.
Ellaluna Taylor
September 16, 2021

Designers are always looking for new ways to innovate and create better products by opening up their process. Adapting research methodologies during this pandemic has been critical for product and design teams, with a shift to remote UX research gaining a lot of attention.

Remote research is changing the game allowing for the design of more diverse and inclusive user experiences.

Now don't get me wrong we are all already making considered attempts to include a diverse range of participants in our research projects. The reality however is that many people are simply not able to participate due to location, timezone, schedule and accessibility. Conducting research remotely breaks down these traditional barriers to research participation.

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Remote research allows you to reach a diverse, global audience.
Participants can engage on their own terms.
Remote research saves everyone involved time and money.

Being able to connect with a participant via video link or a phone call allows people from different backgrounds including those who may have mental or physical disabilities to be more readily included. It also provides a global reach allowing people from different regions and cultures to participate. This access to a wider audience allows a greater understanding of the user experience, resulting in richer research data which in turn leads to a more well rounded, inclusive design solution.

Making a participant feel comfortable is crucial to successful research. Some people however can feel overwhelmed when faced with eye to eye contact or clam up when in an unfamiliar environment or being interviewed in person. Engaging with people remotely through a video call or over the phone can act as a buffer between a participant and a researcher putting people at ease.

This virtual environment allows a participant to share their thoughts and experiences without feeling like they are being observed. Participants are able to participate in the comfort of their own home in a safe and familiar environment which is conducive to a free flowing, candid conversation. 

Conducting research remotely also saves time and money on logistics, and depending on your recruitment tool and method it can be done with as little as a day's notice. This is a simplified cheaper option that avoids having to book interview rooms, travel to multiple locations or ask participants to attend specific locations.

A wider audience leads to a well rounded, inclusive design solution.

There are of course still challenges.

As everyone knows over the last year and a half the most common daily catch phrase is 'you are on mute'. Remote research is not immune to the downfalls of remote technology. Connections, faulty sound, reverb, and lack of video are all problems that need to be navigated. However providing your participants with simple logins and a quick step guide to connection ahead of time usually ensures an easy connection. If all else fails thinking on your feet and having a backup plan makes sure you always have success.

To find out out more about our remote research and how emdash can help you, get in touch.

"Diversity is our world's greatest asset and inclusion is our greatest challenge."
- Jutta Treviranus