Moderated Research

The Value of Moderated Research

What is moderated research?

Moderated research involves direct interaction between the researcher and the research participants. For example, conducting interviews where an interviewer speaks with individuals constitutes moderated research.

Alternatively, unmoderated research, such as surveys, involves sending out questions for participants to answer without any direct conversation taking place.

Moderated Research

Why is moderated research important?

Moderated research is crucial for us when examining the usability and experience of websites. We call this Usability Testing, and our role is to understand where and why users are getting stuck, frustrated, or experiencing uncertainty when using a website, to identify opportunities for improvements.

Whether a website needs redesigning, adopting new technologies, or making simple changes like labelling or content adjustments, moderated research helps us to paint a realistic picture of the user experience, to make a positive difference with accurate and creative recommendations.

Robot Research

Benefits of moderated Usability Testing

Moderated research allows our researchers to sit with participants and observe them as they use a website. This direct interaction allows us to adapt to each participant’s natural behaviour, for example, using their terminology and current needs.

We can also introduce scenarios that align with their natural behaviours. By adapting how we word our tasks, based on what we learn from each participant, we can explore websites without being overly rigid, allowing for greater depth in the study.

Our researcher has the flexibility to let participants explore tangents if it adds value to the research, and will guide them back when necessary.

Usability Testing facilitation room set up
Research observation room set up
EUX research and observation rooms

Capturing insight from Usability Testing

Observation: We observe our research participants’ experiences, noting where users face difficulties or navigate smoothly. Noticing hesitations, frustrations, or back-tracking allows our team to see patterns and explore further, and assess what people do compared to what they say.

Thoughts and Perceptions: Engaging participants in discussions yields valuable insight in their thought pattern and perspective behind their interactions with a website. Whilst users’ opinions are not the focus of our study, the context of what they say does provide deeper insight into their behaviour.

Natural, Real-World Insight: A key advantage of moderated research is our ability to dynamically adapt the research flow based on participant behaviour. By maintaining a natural and flexible approach, participants feel more at ease, allowing for more genuine responses and behaviours.

Deeper Understanding: With a clear eye on the project objectives our researcher has set tasks and scenarios to cover. However, the research plan allows them to delve deeper, exploring relevant tangents that can lead to insights that might otherwise be overlooked.

Example of value

There are many layers of value from Moderated Research. The obvious business benefits that help improve conversion rates, but there is also a bigger picture at play.

Connecting project teams and website owners to their audience brings about an understanding that cannot be gleaned from within the walls of the organisation environment. This fresh perspective helps to prioritise activity, with a clear direction that everyone can get behind.

Usability Testing uncovers “golden nuggets”, a term often used by clients post testing. It provides context to the data, validating or challenging internal debate, and allowing digital teams to understand not just what users experience but why.

Some of the insight gleaned is so obvious when seen from the perspective of your user, and changes can often be quick wins. For example, common findings include changes to icons, terminology, button placement, and reducing copy.

The breadth of understanding and connection garnered from moderated user research and usability testing has a long lasting positive influence, not only for your website, but for your team culture.


The depth of insight derived from usability testing, combined with the qualitative nature of moderated research, empowers us to understand not just what users do, but why they do it, and that’s what’s really important here.

This context provides depth and accuracy, ensuring our insights and recommendations can be utilised by our clients for the short (quick-win), medium (tactical), and long-term (strategic).

Let’s Chat

If you would like to find out more about how moderated research and usability testing can help you, please get in touch for a no obligation chat.

01202 293652