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Re: [ia-55] User Testing Vs. Focus Groups

From: Jeremy
Sent on: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 10:14 AM
As you've heard, there's a lot of opposition to focus groups because they are expensive and have challenges.  However, they have advantages, too.  You want to meet users in their "natural habitat" and a one-on-one interview is far from that.  In a one-on-one setting, if the interviewee isn't a bit intimidated and trying to please the interviewer then they are already far from the center of the bell curve.  I love doing one-on-ones and you can go deep and empathize and get powerful and illuminating stories or get wonderfully detailed information about what is confusing a user about a GUI and where they were expecting to find things and more, but it's tough to get an interviewee to say no when they think you want them to say yes. 

A focus group gives you an opportunity to switch roles from authoritative interviewer to helpful moderator setting the agenda for a group discussion.  Yes, the focus group room is a bit formal, but everyone is used to having a discussion around a table, whether it be at dinner, in high school, or in a corporate conference room.  Although the recognize the authority of the moderator, the group instinctively knows they outnumber the moderator so if the moderator tries to stay neutral they have a much easier time expressing (socially acceptable) opinions the moderator might not like. The individuals in the group discover, raise, and answer the objections of the other members, so it's a much bigger flow of higher quality information.  That is, if the information you are looking for is easily understood, talked about, and debated, which is often not the case.

What is the motivation for showing your prototype to 10 users at once? Unless the 10 users already know each other then I think it's a horrible idea to show them all at once via WebEx.  Show them one at a time via WebEx and interview them individually before, during, and after about whatever is important to you.  I'd only do it all at once if they knew each other and could meet in person IRL to discuss I could get access to that discussion. 

=Jeremy=

On Tue, Jun 11, 2013 at 11:03 AM, Thomas Donehower, Dir UX at Xi <[address removed]> wrote:
Hi, 

Does anyone have any thoughts about best practices for focus groups? I've done a lot of one on one user testing, but have not conducted a lot of focus groups. We're basically showing a prototype application to a target group of users, about 10, via WebEx. 

I'm concerned about "group think" and "mob rule" type comments as we review the application. 

Any thoughts about how to best show the application and which questions to ask to get the most valuable feedback from the group? 

Best,  

--
-Tom

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