How to make advanced online user studies meaningful
Paper in proceeding, 2021

It is of vital importance to explore and understand future users' needs and requirements in the early phases of the product development process. However, in times of social distancing meeting users might not be possible. The project reported on in this paper has investigated the possibilities of conducting advanced user studies online. In total 30 small experimental studies have been conducted. Common digital tools that were used were e.g. Zoom, Teams, Mural, Miro, Snapchat, and Instagram.

The data was analyzed in a thematic content analysis by the authors on Mural. Identified challenges were excluding not tech-savvy user groups, missing out on interpersonal interaction and observations, as well as difficulties creating participant commitment and trust. On the positive side were perceived efficiency, a more levelled power distribution between participants, and ease of engagement and data retrieval for tech-savvy users.

Identified best practices included lowering social barriers through warm up activities and techniques to support open discussion during workshops. Furthermore, engagement could be supported through private social media groups, regular reminders, as well as clear communication of purpose and goal of the activities.

collaborative design

online collaboration

Requirements elicitation

user centred design


Pontus Wallgren

Chalmers, Industrial and Materials Science, Design and Human Factors

Maral Babapour Chafi

Institute of Stress Medicine

Siw Eriksson

Chalmers, Industrial and Materials Science, Design and Human Factors

Proceedings of the Design Society

2732-527X (ISSN)

Vol. 1 1787-1796

23rd International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED 2021
Göteborg, Sweden,

FAD- Facilitating User Studies at a Distance

Chalmers, 2020-07-01 -- 2020-12-31.

Subject Categories

Other Mechanical Engineering


Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified

Human Computer Interaction

Driving Forces

Innovation and entrepreneurship



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