Testing- Remote Focus Group

26 Jan 2009 - 5:47pm
5 years ago
4 replies
1216 reads
Shima Kazerooni
2007

Hi,

We are planning to conduct a remote focus group with a limited number of participants and I was wondering if anyone has done that before.  Did you use any specific tools or applications?  Are there ways to make it more efficient and get the most out of the remote focus groups?

Thank you,
Shima

Comments

27 Jan 2009 - 8:38pm
baruag
2007

Are you using an agency who will conduct your research remotely? Or
will the facilitator be sitting in another city/country than the
focus group itself?

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=37681

28 Jan 2009 - 6:28pm
Sarah Kampman
2008

Shima,

I've conducted a number of remote focus groups over the last year. Here are a few things that worked for me:

Put in lots of advance preparation. With so many folks on the phone, and with their attention already at risk, it's important not to waste any time rummaging for mockups or verbally explaining a change you should have made in your prototype. I had good success with building meeting-specific websites that laid out all topics for discussion in an annotated table, with links to specific images or topics. Ultra-organized sessions also increase the rate of repeat participation.

Make it clear when participants should talk, ask probing questions, and prompt specific people for feedback. This isn't the time to let shy participants "sit one out." If you need feedback on specific points, ask for it. The more specific you are, the more likely you'll get non-vague answers.

Keep the focus groups as small as you can. I found 3-5 participants to be a good number; more than that, and there were too many voices to keep track of. It helps to establish a relationship with your participants, to figure out ahead of time who's interested in what. I also think that the participants will be more frank with you if they know who you are and how their responses will be used.

Have several backup technologies ready. I typically used LiveMeeting to share my desktop. I've also used ConceptShare and OptimalSort for specific needs. But on more than one occasion, technical difficulties required that I move everybody to GoToMeeting, Google Docs, or just mail out screenshots every few minutes. The more people on the line, the more likely that someone is not going to be able to log into whatever tool you use, and people will notice how graceful your transition to the backup solution is.

Keep it short. In my experience, it's better to run two 30-minute sessions than one hour-long session. Forget about anything longer. Attention spans wane on the phone/internet. I also found that folks were more relaxed and talkative during the second session; I suppose because they knew what to expect.

Good luck, and let me know if you'd like to talk more about this. I've run nearly 100(!) remote focus/design sessions and usability tests over the last year and would be happy to help.

-Sarah

-----Original Message-----
We are planning to conduct a remote focus group with a limited number of participants and I was wondering if anyone has done that before.  Did you use any specific tools or applications?  Are there ways to make it more efficient and get the most out of the remote focus groups?

29 Jan 2009 - 3:53am
Harry Brignull
2004

Hi Shima

The quality of insight that you can get from one on one interviews is almost
always better than focus groups. I think is point of view is pretty standard
in and you'll find it in most research textbooks. A lot of UX specialists
sneer at focus groups as a method - some consultancies refuse to use them,
period.
Why?

- opinions are easily influenced in group situations
- it's hard to build rapport (which is necessary if you want to ask really
probing questions)
- it's easy for attendees to just "ride the wave" and go along with the
conversation
- in any conversation, only one person can speak at a time, which means you
only end up with a small proportion of spoken words from each person.
- it's tempting for moderators to ask what if? or If then? questions (e.g.
if you used the product I just web demoed, would you find it easy /
enjoyable?). These questions, though tempting, are well known to be
unreliable.
- as a result, critics claim that instead of gathering useful insights from
all of the attendees, you end up with a collection of relatively trivial /
shallow comments

Focus groups seem like attractive things because they appear to deliver so
much - qualitative depth research with impressive numbers of people in short
periods of time. But for the reasons I've outlined above, many UX
specialists see them as a false economy.

A really skilled focus group moderator can reduce the impact of these
problems (like Sarah - who's given you some great advice in the previous
message) but they never completely go away.

I wonder if this view is shared by everyone on IXDA - if anyone disagrees,
it would be a welcome discussion!

Harry

On Thu, Jan 29, 2009 at 4:22 AM, Shima Kazerooni <shkazerooni at yahoo.com>wrote:

> Hi Harry
>
> We would like to get pre-screened participants' feedback on something. The
> participants are all over the place and the format of the session will be a
> focus group remotely instead of a 1-1 interview.
>
> Shima
>
> ------------------------------
> *From:* Harry <harrybr at gmail.com>
> *To:* Shima Kazerooni <shkazerooni at yahoo.com>
> *Sent:* Tuesday, January 27, 2009 1:32:35 AM
> *Subject:* Re: [IxDA Discuss] Testing- Remote Focus Group
>
> Shima,
>
> When you say remote - do you mean a group of strangers calling in to a
> conference call service? I can imagine that might be problematic. Have you
> considered doing one-on-one telephone interviews instead of a remote focus
> group?
>
> Harry
>
>
>
> --
> Dr. Harry Brignull
> User Experience Consultant
> http://www.90percentofeverything.com
> + 44 (0)7920 474784
>
>
>
>
>
>

--
Dr. Harry Brignull
User Experience Consultant
http://www.90percentofeverything.com
+ 44 (0)7920 474784

--
Dr. Harry Brignull
User Experience Consultant
http://www.90percentofeverything.com
+ 44 (0)7920 474784

4 Feb 2009 - 11:17am
majid dadgar
2008

Shima,

I just saw the Adv. on CNN, give it a free trial try, if it might be of some
help to you:

https://www.gotomeeting.com

Best,
Majid.

On Tue, Jan 27, 2009 at 2:17 AM, Shima Kazerooni <shkazerooni at yahoo.com>wrote:

> Hi,
>
> We are planning to conduct a remote focus group with a limited number of
> participants and I was wondering if anyone has done that before. Did you
> use any specific tools or applications? Are there ways to make it more
> efficient and get the most out of the remote focus groups?
>
> Thank you,
> Shima
>
>
>
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