Friday, July 07, 2006

Design Research: A Conversation With Steve Portigal (pt. 2)

Continuation of a good interview series ...

"Here’s part 2 of my conversation with LukeW. Please see Functioning Form for part 1.

Luke Wroblewski

Let me try to clarify by taking a step back. I see field research as a way to remove some of the tarnish that comes with more “traditional” market research like focus groups and surveys. The common perspective is that people in a focus group or survey won’t really tell you what they want or how they do things because often times -they can’t. They are a level removed from the actual activity and as a result may leave out key details or considerations they use the make decisions.

The classic example, and I can’t recall where I first read it, is the washing machine manufacturer that polls thousands of potential customers and asks them “what features do you want in a washing machine?” The responses they get back are: “just the basics”; “i just want a simple setting for colors and whites”; “nothing too fancy”; etc. So the company makes a bunch of no-frills, feature-lite machines and they don’t sell because when it actually comes time to buy a machine the same people that said they want “simple above all else” fall prey to feature-sheen. “Oooh but this one has more features…” I’m sure you’ve heard a similar tale or two.

So what we have here is people saying they do one thing then going out and doing something totally different. Field research should ideally be there at the point of the sale -in context- to enable the company to see what really happens."   continued ...   (Via Steve Portigal)

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