UX Lab, what is it?

Torresburriel Estudio
4 min readNov 23, 2022

In this post, we will explain what a UX Lab is and how we should use a UX Lab. We will talk about the process of developing and building a UX Lab.

What is UX Lab and what are its characteristics?

The UX Lab or Usability Lab is one of the reference infrastructures when it comes to user testing.

When we deploy research processes, some of the methods used may involve observing users in a real-life context.

This observation involves analysing their gestures, body language, and reactions beyond what they express verbally. These sessions highlight the gaps between the experience we hope to be creating for users and the one we have actually created.

This type of research is carried out in spaces adapted for this purpose, which are defined as UX Lab. Therefore, we can define a usability lab as the facility set up to allow this type of research to happen.

Taking notes in a testing session at the UX Lab of Torresburriel Estudio

UX Lab characteristics

A curiosity that many people in the UX world have is what the facilities of a usability lab look like.

A UX Lab has to fulfill a series of very important characteristics:

  • The spaces have to be separate, discrete and soundproof. The aim of the research is to assess the usability, interaction and emotions of the user, without interfering. Therefore, it is important that there is a separate space for taking notes.
  • Provide advanced technologies.
  • Give the possibility to invite stakeholders and customers to see live what is happening with your product. It can be revealing for them.
  • Provide high levels of confidentiality.

Why do we need a usability lab?

A usability lab provides the technical set-up necessary to conduct research in a controlled environment.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to adapt and do research remotely, with all the cost savings and flexibility that this entails.

However, we still believe that the best place to carry out research in as controlled and aseptic an environment as possible is still the usability lab.

Therefore, it is important first to be aware of all the security measures necessary in the current situation for conducting face-to-face research.

At a Masterclass organised by the UXalliance, our US partner Bob Schumacher, Managing Director of Bold Insight, gave a great talk on how user research has changed in the wake of the pandemic. He conducted a study himself in which he tried to measure the impact, for both researchers and participants, of the changes that had taken place. The study concludes that there are two obstacles to remote research:

  • Difficulties encountered by users at the technical level.
  • The lack of computer skills or the problems that users may have in getting to know the different applications used in a research process.

These are the kinds of issues that a usability lab helps to keep under control, as the researcher creates and monitors the environment and situation under which the study will take place.

On the other hand, there are two scenarios when we talk about a study on the usability of digital products:

  • That we ask users to use their own devices.
  • That we provide users with the necessary equipment to carry out the research tasks.

The UX Lab: a modular and adaptable space

Do not think of a usability lab as a rigid and immovable space as we will have to adapt it to the research objectives and use the necessary infrastructure.

For example, to conduct a focus group, we will need large spaces that allow us to accommodate a large number of people. Ideally, in the design of these spaces, we should consider issues such as the psychology of colour and architecture.

Other research projects will consist of working sessions in which there will be only one participant at a time, so the configuration of the space will have to be different in this case.

In general it will be a good idea to think of the UXLab as a space that should be modular and adaptable. Of course, we should not forget that we will also need sufficient space for research equipment.

What tests can be performed in a UX Lab?

As in everything else, also in the construction of a UX Lab, it is essential to be clear about the objectives that you want to achieve with this space and the services that you want to provide.

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Torresburriel Estudio

User Experience & User Research agency focused on services and digital products. Proud member of @UXalliance