All About Website Usability Blog – Holly Phillips


Additional types of usability research
September 24, 2009, 3:55 am
Filed under: usability testing

The line between market research and usability testing is a very fuzzy one.  In addition to the types of usability tests I’ve discussed earlier, the following types of market research is also often used to help get a richer picture of customer needs, thoughts, and actions. 

Different tools and techniques are required depending on what the research is trying to achieve. To try to understand what customers feel about a certain ad, what value they get from training courses, or why they believe that our products make their lives easier, the first three types of research (qualitative) listed below may be most appropriate. If the question is what impact a new ad will have on our sales, how many people will take a new training class, or how much we should charge for a new product, the last two techniques (quantitative) are more appropriate.

  • Customer Visits:  Anecdotal / qualitative, not projectable to the general population, may be Agilent-biased.  Exploratory and experiential, not definitive.
     
  • Individual Interviews:  Anecdotal / qualitative, not projectable to the general population, may be interviewer-biased. May be conducted by phone or in-person.  Exploratory and suggestive, not definitive.
     
  • Focus Groups:  Anecdotal / qualitative, not projectable to the general population, may be group-biased.  Exploratory and creative, not definitive.
     
  • Descriptive Surveys:  Quantitative / projectable, objective. Descriptive, not predictive.
     
  • Choice Models:  Quantitative / projectable, objective. Predictive of trade-offs and purchase behavior.
     
  • Controlled ExperimentsQuantitative / projectable, objective. Predictive of trade-offs and purchase behavior.
     
  • Customer Satisfaction or Loyalty Studies:  Quantitative / projectable, objective. Typically done longitudinally (repeated over time) to provide trend information.  Many well-accepted series of questions to obtain measure of satisfaction or loyalty; often extrapolated to predict purchase intent.

The next time you’re asked to run a “usability” study, take a close look at the research questions and see whether one of these types of research might just be more appropriate.

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