Market researchers, don’t get left behind by your UX peers. Discover some of the latest UX tools you can also use for wider market research
When the first websites and online services of what we used to call the ‘new media’ era were being built there were no user experience researchers or agencies to turn to. Brands who wanted to build their digital offering with user input and behavioural insights turned to market research agencies to help guide, test and develop their fledgling websites. And, they leaned heavily on classic market research (MR) techniques because that was mostly all that was on offer. Yes, they’d call focus groups ‘Webclinics’ or depth interviews ‘Accompanied surfs’ but in essence it was shoehorning in MR classics that weren’t always fit for purpose. The start of dedicated UX roles, teams and agencies led to those old market research practitioners quickly seeing digital product development briefs dry-up as user researchers forged a more innovative and disruptive path.
Since the early 00s I’ve been lucky to have worked in both MR and UX research in parallel but it has always been the latter, along with design research, that has felt the most progressive and eye-opening. Agile research approaches, the rise self-serve research tools, assessing cognitive biases, generation of iterative insight, the focus on real vs. claimed behaviour and many other of the moment research trends have long been part of the UX research world. It was through UX research that I first got to experience many of the newer research solutions we now take for granted, often years ahead of some of my MR colleagues: remote video research, behavioural economic analysis (aka ‘heuristic reviews’), eye-tracking, passive tracking (aka ‘netnography’), mobile video ethnography, heatmap and annotation tools and many more had a good head start in the UX world.
I’ve always done my best to promote some of these solutions and tools to my MR colleagues and adapt them for wider research purposes. Today, UX researchers have developed a large bank of innovative approaches and solutions for conducting research, undertaking analysis and collaboration. And what also jumps out is just how cost effective many of these solutions are compared to what is charged in the MR space.
So what UX tools and applications should market researchers dip into? Below are a handful of tools I’d recommend checking out with ideas of how you might use them for wider market research needs.
Lookback is designed for remote user testing of websites and apps (on mobile and desktop), it allows you to chat with participants whilst recording their on-screen behaviour plus the audio or video of participants. You can also invite your team or clients to view live. Designed for usability testing but can be used for remote interviews, accompanied mobile experiences, testing of websites, apps and concepts.
Potential applications: Digital ethnography, Concept testing and remote interviewing.
Recruit research participants (from their panel, your database or your own site / app), schedule research and organise incentives for qualitative research (depths, ethnography, communities, etc) all from one simple interface. Should traditional qualitative recruitment agencies be worried? Absolutely.
Applications: End to end qualitative participant recruitment, scheduling and incentivisation
A design self-serve survey tool that provides preference, click navigation and 5 second recall tests plus flexible design feedback surveys questions. Designed with websites and apps in mind but can easily be used to test any form of creative as long as you have an image – ads, prototype products, brochures, etc. The way they keep the image accessible on each page for participant feedback is a nice touch compared to most survey tools as are the simple text analytics tools.
Applications: Gather feedback on any type of creative, design, prototype that you can upload as an image
4. Dovetail https://dovetailapp.com/
Still using notebooks, Word docs, Excel, Whiteboards and Post-its to collate and make sense of your raw research outputs? Really in 2019? Dovetail helps you store, analyze, and collaborate on user research in one easily accessible platform. Designed for UX research but equally applicable to any form of qual research
Applications: Analysis and sharing of qualitative insights
Chris Handford is Director and Head of insight, Trinity McQueen London.