Usability labs are laboratories where usability testing is conducted under the supervision of a UX researcher. Test participants are recorded to observe how they complete tasks using the software.
How to construct a usability lab?
If your company continuously performs usability testing, it's a good idea to consider building a usability lab. The word lab usually generates images of explosive chemicals and experiments, but a usability lab could be as simple as a room.
Ideally, the room should be large enough to accommodate at least three people and, if possible, connected to another room that will serve as the observation room. Another thing to keep in mind is the use of cameras. Although participants know they're being recorded, it's best practice to use cameras as subtly as possible.
Avoid having a camera directly in front of their face, as it may make some people uncomfortable or even self-conscious. We want our users to feel comfortable during usability testing for the best natural reactions, so consider having a camera where most participants won't notice it—like embedded into the webcam of a computer.
What are the benefits of conducting usability testing in a lab?
A usability lab allows researchers to closely observe their target users. Oftentimes, companies aren't able to heavily interact with their users, but a usability lab fixes these difficulties. Researchers can watch the expressions on users' faces, observe how they navigate completing a task, and ask questions, all of which provide detailed information about users' behavior.