The Hidden Costs in International Usability Testing

international usability testing

The extras you should allow for when international testing

We previously looked at the possible hidden costs of usability testing generally; here we are going to examine the same issue but around international usability testing where the potential for hidden costs escalating out of control is much greater (and likelier to happen).

Here are just a few of the main areas you need to be aware of and look out for when you are planning and costing international usability research:

  • As with the UK travel and accommodation can be a considerable cost – but with international testing you can multiply this by a factor of several. There are, however. Some steps you can take to mitigate this; for example –
    • try not to stay in a big city or holiday destination where prices are likely to be tourist prices and consequently much higher; look for more local venues for the usability testing and aim to get local prices;
    • if you can stay close to where the testing venue is located you can save on travel costs (and time);
    • cater yourselves – don’t pay for hotel or restaurant meals;
    • do as much research as you can on venues and accommodation before you go – it will pay off in savings in the long run.
  • Simultaneous translation is another area of possible unanticipated cost; while you will have foreseen the requirement for translation, did you know that you will often need two translators where the testing is being done in a language you don’t speak, thereby doubling the cost?
  • Catering for the participants and local staff – again this might seem like a straightforward, predictable expense but do you know the local preferences and suppliers or the conventions that govern such things (e.g. in Muslim countries during Ramadan). You might need some on-the-ground advice and direction on how to go about this.
  • Localisation of the site: you can’t just present the UK version of your site simply translated into the language of the host country; you have to make sure the translation makes sense in context and doesn’t break any taboos or present cultural, linguistic or perceptual obstacles to the users.
  • Prototype design: the prototype you use for UK testing might not be amenable to other areas of the globe in terms of platforms, technology, proliferation of devices etc. This might mean designing a totally new interface which could prove extremely costly and time-consuming.
  • Payment and currency fluctuations: recent market events after the Brexit vote show just how volatile currency rates can be. You can budget for an exercise only to find that the rate moves against you and suddenly the project is 5% or even 10% more expensive than you expected. You can hedge against this by pre-buying currencies at an agreed rate; of course this means you won’t benefit from any movements in your favour, but it does give you certainty on the final cost of the work.

It can often help to get advice from professionals before commissioning or instigating an international usability testing project. They might be able to point out further areas where you can rationalise the exercise or make savings or other actions you can take now to mitigate costs.

If you are thinking about usability testing and would like a no-obligation chat with an experienced international practitioner, contact us today on +44(0)800 0246 247, or email .

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