The Impact of User Research Technology on Data Quality

Qualitative data gathering methods such as in-depth interviews and focus groups have existed since the 1920s, when the importance of demographics and consumer insight first came into the spotlight. Globalization and technological advancements since then have reshaped the market research industry time and again.

Today we have the opportunity to reach many different demographics at once and receive large amounts of data in a short period of time. While this has revolutionized the industry, it does also have some drawbacks from the traditional ways of gathering information. Quantity is not always better than quality, even in data collection. So the question then remains:

Can we push the future of market research and technology to give us higher quality data, thus giving us the best of both worlds?

Technology and Respondent Recruitment

Technology and the internet has given researchers the ability to access larger populations of respondents than ever before. While larger pools of data connect us to more people, quantity isn’t the only factor to consider. Participant variation is also important.

If all the data gleaned from a study comes from one place, the results may not represent the population or desired demographic as a whole. This can happen if only a single platform is used to recruit participants, for example if only one social media group is used as a participant source. This is why it is recommended to find research participants from multiple channels, even when recruiting via the internet.

Things to Consider when Incorporating User Research Technology

User Research Software Often Doesn’t Work:

Many have experienced that the available user research software isn’t reliable. This results in high participant drop-out rates and a need for alternative interview methods, such as phone interviews. Phone interviews are time consuming, require a moderator and exclude the possibility of video, but they have higher success rate than online tests. There is a great need for not only more reliable software, but also more flexible technology that can be used across devices.

When It Works, User Research Software Saves Time:

The approach to how one incorporates technology should vary depending on the demographic of respondents. If your respondent pool is more tech-savvy, user research software is more likely to work.

Some platforms (like Validatley and Lookback) allow users to complete a self-test, eliminating the need for a moderator. However, with online self-tests, you cannot give follow-up questions or edit questions on the spot that aren’t working as intended. For the first few interviews, it is recommended to try a moderated test and get a feel of how participants respond to the questions and test setup.

Have a Back-up Plan: 

Not everyone is technologically inclined and there are cases where even the most ‘user-friendly’ software will be a challenge for respondents. For example, in rural areas, where access to broadband is limited, people may not have a strong enough internet connection to complete a self-test. Be prepared to do some interviews over the phone. 

User Research Software is a Tool, Not a Replacement

While technology enables us to reach out to more people, and give us the tools to not only receive more information but also quickly organize that information, it has not completely taken over need for human interaction.

It is important to see user research software as what they are, tools and not replacements. Just like google translate can be a great tool, we also know the mistakes that can come from it when you take out the human editor. There are aspects of technology that has not yet been able to replicate what a human can achieve.

Our Approach

Generation Focus is a market research firm that caters to ethnography in business. We are not only knowledgeable in the current technology, but prepared to deal with the down-falls as well. We do recruitment, moderated interviews, phone interviews and feedback sessions. Generation Focus has experience recruiting hard to reach and niche groups. We know how to utilize a range of tools and methods for reaching out to people, and are very aware that every recruitment process is different.

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