Video Recording Hack For User Testing

This is a pretty cool hack I’ve been using to make recording video easier on myself and less disruptive to our participants during user testing. To do this you will need a room with a table, a laptop, Quicktime, a phone with the app you are testing and sticky tack…that stringy stuff used to hold up paper.

📝 As always, make sure you get written consent from your test participants before you begin recording. Let’s get started.

Recording Video

1. Find a room with a table to conduct your test in. Position your laptop on the table so it’s facing the direction of the participant.

2. Place two pieces of sticky tack on the table between the laptop and the end of the table.

3. Push your phone down onto the sticky tack so it holds the phone in place. This is going to ensure the person using the phone won’t move it out of view of the camera when they are completing their task. Have the participant sit at the table with the phone easily in reach, facing the open laptop.

4. Open Quicktime and begin a New Movie Recording. Don’t forget to hit the red button to start recording! When the recording starts you will see yourself and your participant in the recording window.

5. Once you have started recording tilt the laptop down so the mobile phone becomes centered in the screen. This will keep the phone and the participants hand in the field of view so you can see what they are interacting with during the test. Don’t move the laptop from this position.

6. Turn the screen brightness on your computer all the way down. This will make your laptop look like it’s turned off. This step is important because it prevents the participant from seeing their hand and the phone during the recording, which would be really distracting.

I’ve adjusted the position of my laptop in the example below to clearly demonstrate what it looks like to the user when the screen brightness is all the way down, but make sure you keep your laptop tilted down so it records the phone on the table.

Now you have video recording, the laptop screen appears to be off (hack) and all you have left to do is run your test. I have found this recording method works particularly well when conducting a Retroactive Think Aloud.

8. When the participant is done with their task turn the screen brightness back up, stop the recording and save your video.

That’s it, you did it! You now have a surprisingly good recording of a person using your app without having to do any complicated camera setup or integrate with any third party apps. This also works well for recording interviews or follow up questions.

Watching The Recording

When you play back the recording you will notice it’s upside down and flipped on it’s side. This is easily fixed in Quicktime by selecting Flip Horizontal and Flip Vertical form the Edit menu.

If you have any questions about this recording method let me know, I hope this was helpful 👍 ✌️.