We have been running remote UX research in China for some time now. As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, we use our local team due to the the great Chinese firewall. We often have remote viewers in Singapore so using Zoom has worked really well for us. Until recently Zoom worked well in China and viewing remotely was pretty good too – not always perfect but not bad.
The other beauty of Zoom, from a research ops perspective, is that we can centrally control all the session recordings. This makes coordinating the video editing more easy. Particularly when it comes to simultaneous translation and merging English Audio into the video.
We have also been using Zoom for the playback session. This is when we have client stakeholders, UX24/7 team members and our consultant who ran the research all on the same video call. Quite often these sessions span multiple markets. If our consultant is in China we have needed a means for them to be able to present results to a global audience.
These playback sessions are often fraught with difficulty. At times we have needed to have our Chinese colleague dial in because the connection was so poor. It is easy to put that down to local bandwidth issues rather than the Chinese government until you try something else. The recent political environment has seen China turn the screw on the great firewall and Zoom is now hit-and-miss to say the least.
Voov – the alternative to Zoom
To overcome the challenges we now have using Zoom we have started using a product called Voov for remote UX research in China. It is created by Tencent, one of China’s largest and most successful tech firms. That means Voov is supported by the Chinese Government. It therefore does not fall foul of the great firewall.
One thing you realize immediately is that the previous glitches experienced with Zoom, even pre-recent changes, were not down to bandwidth issues. They were directly related to the great firewall. Using Voov transforms the remote viewing experience for remote UX research in China and it is like working between any two western countries. This makes remote viewing and playback sessions far more effective and with a lot less hassle.