A current project requires lab user testing in four cities in California. We knew that for the Bay Area, we could use our client’s office, but for L.A., Fresno, and Sacramento, what would we do?
Our first impulse was to get a formal user testing lab — totally pro set up, one-way glass, lots and lots of M&Ms. So we priced out a couple of labs in L.A., and the cheapest we could find was $1500 for a day. Which struck me as obscene.
And considering I hate testing facilities as it is. It’s sooooo corporate/conference-y. So foreign and weird.
So, instead, we booked adjoining hotel rooms. One serves as the testing room, the other as the observation room. Bring down a cheap, small, digital camera, and wire that to a TV in the observation room. Hotels are all about the high-speed internet access now, and Courtyard and Residence Inns by Marriott offer it for free.
Have the testing room be a suite, so that there’s a desk set-up in a room with no bed. (Otherwise, it feels a little too… porn-y.)
And hey, since you’re traveling, you need a hotel room for the night before (and possibly night of), so the rooms serve double duty.
Two adjoining hotel rooms run for around $300 for a day, depending on location. Even if it gets up to, oh, $500, that’s still a huge discount over a testing facility.
Why would I use a testing facility, again?