Very often, out of mere habit, we believe that there is only one way of doing things. As a result, we construct biases and myths that condition our decisions and can lead to mistakes. This applies to everything.
An example of this is what happens during the research development process for user experience (UX). Onsite research is a powerful tool but biases and myths push people to think that it should only be done onsite, when in fact there are other ways to collect data from the field rather than always being there.
However, there is never only one way of doing things. Flexibility is the key to success, and the methodologies chosen must adapt to each project and to different conditions. One such possibility is the need to conduct the research process remotely. You know, there are many ways of standing side by side, not just physically. In fact, creative UX designers can find alternative data sources to acquire information without the need to move from where they are, thus saving money and time.
Let us take a look at the most recent and common biases related to UX research under the nearshore format. These are the five main myths:
1. Nearshore and offshore are the same, and time differences damage project dynamics.
Well, everything will be easier to understand once we make the following clarification: there is a significant difference between the concepts of nearshore and offshore. Even if they coincide in the sense that they both imply the provision of services at a distance, “nearshore” expresses a proximity both in practical and cultural terms. For example, you may be working with a supplier in the north, while you are in the south. However, you are both in the same time zone, or with just one- or two-hours’ difference. This also means that, probably, your supplier and you share cultural traits and affinities in the way you do business. It is likely that “offshore” implies there is more than an eight-hour time difference and a different culture.
2. Closer is faster
There is the belief that physical proximity is synonymous with speed, when, very often, that is not the case. The contrary might even be more productive. The onsite user’s experience testing, with the need to set and manage people’s agendas at a given place and time requires a great effort in terms of organization, logistics and, of course, expenses. Nearshore offers agility for two reasons: first, sometimes, doing remote usability testing means that the user is actually performing tasks on the real environment he would with the final product, so insights would emerge because of that, rather than inviting the user to a office; on the other hand, with the adequate tools and technology, quality can be monitored similarly to what can be done onsite if the work is done with processes efficiently focused and with an experienced team that is used to working remotely.
You can have more flexibility (coordinating virtual agendas is much easier). Additionally, as soon as a session ends, the next one starts.
3. If you are not here, you do not know me
Clients need to feel that the UX designer knows them as no one else does. Again, with the adequate methodologies and tools it is possible to conduct very thorough research about users. However, there is an additional advantage: if the project requires it, nearshore can access a greater diversity of users, with no geographic or time limitations. What is most important is that the UX researchers may contribute more cultural experiences that will help them create a solution to meet their needs, in a simple way.
4. Professionals in the remote model work in isolation, each one from their own location.
A distributed team is not a group of isolated people. At Making Sense, all the professionals assigned to a project –including those on the client’s side– work collaboratively, with day-to-day monitoring of activities, meeting dynamics and feedback evaluation targets. Reality helped to break this myth: teleworking as the norm in companies has led many of our clients to also create distributed teams that are very often more cohesive and productive, as compared to when all team members were in the same physical location. If you want to check it out, have a look at the Qualtrics Reports, which shows that “55% of managers believe their direct reports have been more productive, while only 16% report less productivity”. However, they are not alone: 51% of employees believe that they have also been more productive working remotely.
5. Language differences can cause comprehension and communication problems
Language differences can be viewed as a challenge and an opportunity. Our experience in building teams oriented to achieve projects with a positive impact for our clients shows us that the constant interaction between the parties usually creates a valuable link of empathy, and even helps utilize language differences as an icebreaker. An executive of one of the most important companies from Making Sense’s roster of clients used to learn phrases in Spanish or “translate” the weather into degrees Celsius to facilitate communication with the team members, in this case from Argentina. This is an opportunity to build a relationship that adds value to the team and the project.
To conclude, the nearshore model is a valid, proven and effective alternative to advanced UX research and testing. That is, if you put your biases aside.