- Focus groups
- In-depth interviews
- Observational sessions
- Online bulletin board focus groups
A focus group is a 90-120 minute discussion among
8-10 people (regular group) or 4-6 people (mini-group) that is led by
a professional moderator. The group is typically used for soliciting ideas
and finding out what participants think, feel and believe about a specific
“focused” topic or issue. Participants are recruited based
on a target demographic or psychographic profile. Using a guide prepared
with client input, the moderator keeps the discussion focused and encourages
participants to build on each other’s ideas. Clients observe the
focus group discussion through a room with one-way mirror.
An in-depth interview (IDI) is conducted one-on-one
with a respondent for about 30-60 minutes. It can be an appropriate tool
when sensitive, socially unacceptable or competitive issues need to be
explored. IDIs are also used for usability studies, where respondents
provide feedback based on their interactions with a product, such as website
usability, product package testing, etc. Clients observe the IDIs through
a room with one-way mirror.
People do not always recall precisely how they
use a product. An observational session is conducted in the environment
where a product is typically used, such as someone’s office or home.
Because behavior is observed in the real world, observational sessions
can provide a more complete understanding of the user experience.
Online bulletin board focus groups
Online bulletin board focus groups are an effective
qualitative method when participants are hard-to-reach busy professionals
(CEOs, physicians, etc.) or are spread out geographically across the country.
Participants are pre-recruited and agree to participate over a 3-5 day
period. They answer questions posted by the moderator and respond to fellow
participants’ comments. The moderator posts follow-up questions
to gain a fuller understanding of the information being shared and discussed.