Using Google Hangouts on Air for Remote Usability Testing


September 17, 2014

Remote Usability Testing

Convenience is one of the key advantages of Remote Usability Testing. You don't need to get the participant in-house and it works especially well when your users are spread across different locations.

But that could just turn around if your tools start to give-up on you. With remote testing, you now have 2 points of failure - participant's and your's. There could be restrictions on installing new software on the participants machine and problems with setting up the microphone and internet issues could easily gobble up the allotted time.

Hangout on Air

For for past couple of tests, we tried Google Hangout on Air and liked it for the following reasons:


  1. Make sure to have your Youtube account connected to your google plus account.

  2. Go toGoogle+ Hangouts and create a new Hangout on Air.

  3. If you don't want the hangout to be publicly available, make sure to remove 'Public' and Add the participant's email.

  4. Though you can schedule start and end times, you will have to manually start the session for it to start recording.

  5. To download the video for offline use, go to your videos on Youtube and you'll find a "Download MP4" in the video drop-down.


  1. We found Google Hangout to drain the laptop battery too fast. If you or the participants are on the laptop, being connected to the charger is a must.

  2. Even if you think the test will take only 25 min, keep a buffer of 15-20 minutes to account for Technical Issues and Timezone differences.

  3. While sharing the screen, the webcam of the participant is turned off. So won't be able to see the participant's face.


Use this Usability Checklist (PDF) to make sure you aren't missing anything and this Test Script (PDF) to explain what you are doing to the participants.

(From Steve Krug, the author of Rocket Surgery Made Easy)


If you are looking for a quick and easy solution to conduct your remote usability tests, give Google Hangout on Air a go and let us know your thoughts - Did it work for you? Did you find something better?

If you need any help with usability testing, feel free to reach out to me - manish.c [at] or schedule a free 30 min call.