Moderated International User Research

international user research

Conducting Moderated international user research

International user research is becoming an increasingly important part of the UX research package for site owners and developers. The web is, by its very nature, universal and it is difficult to ignore the international aspects and implications of web design and interfaces.

As we have noted previously though, international user research is fraught with perils and pitfalls and should not be undertaken lightly nor without the necessary knowledge and preparation to give it the best chance of success.

Here are some tips to make your international user research project run smoothly:

  • Appoint a single project manager regardless of how many locations you are covering. Having more than one person responsible for the running of projects increases the handover points and therefore the possibilities of breakdowns or misunderstandings. A single manager handling the logistics ensures there is at least one person who knows what is happening, and what is supposed to be happening, throughout the project.
  • Use local facilities and researchers where you have to but ensure these are properly assessed, tested and briefed beforehand to ensure they are up to the task and the delivery team are completely apprised of what you are seeking to achieve. The technology, experience and practices need to be able to carry the project you have planned and deliver meaningful outcomes – and this means them being amenable to local culture and practices but also compatible with your technical and research needs.
  • The recruitment brief is a critical factor in international user research and this should be discussed verbally with the local recruiter to ensure that there is a complete understanding of the requirements. Terms can mean different things in different places and it is best to ensure that everyone is on the same page with a full explanatory discussion of the brief and clarification of anything obscure or capable of more than one interpretation. Seeking the local agent’s advice on how to achieve the desired representation can also be a useful adjunct to the exercise.
  • The methodology for conducting the interviews, collecting and collating the data and reporting it back is even more crucial where there are several, multi-national locations involved in the project. If the researchers are not consistently briefed and informed on these issues, it is likely that it will become difficult to compare results between countries and collate all the information into something like a unified, coherent report for the commissioners.
  • Be aware of the differences and technical and cultural limitations of the markets you are researching. Learn as much about them beforehand as you can and use local people on the ground with local knowledge and experience to enhance your understanding and grasp of the prevailing environment, traditions, levels of sophistication and facilities.

The best way to ensure you have the experience and knowledge required to undertake international user research is to engage a specialist to run the project. If you would like any further guidance on commissioning and managing international research or are considering initiating a project and need advice on how to go about it, then please, get in touch on +44(0)800 024624 or email us at

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