Focus Groups are a Joke

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My IGNITE talk from UXPA 2013 on why Focus Groups are terrible for UX research.

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  • This will happen even if you have the best moderator in the world Irrelevant conversations, taking precious time
  • People lie by omission too
  • Get answers from everyone, talk about it a little bit, then move on
  • Focus Groups are a Joke

    1. 1. 2013 Get up, get, get, get down Focus Groups are a joke in your town Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/57/Public_Enemy_4.jpg Dan Berlin Experience Research Director, Mad*Pow dberlin@madpow.com @banderlin
    2. 2. 2013 Why UXers should avoid focus groups ๏  Group dynamics ๏  Moderator bias ๏  Difficult to analyze ๏  Not going to reach consensus
    3. 3. 2013 Group Dynamics – Personalities ๏  David vs. Goliath personalities ๏  Dominant voice will dominate the session ๏  Timid voice may have wonderful ideas
    4. 4. 2013 Group Dynamics – Everybody Lies ๏  Participants want to seem more interesting to those around them Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kaykim/3649886264/
    5. 5. 2013 Group Dynamics – No Privacy ๏  Can’t discuss sensitive matters ๏  …and everything is sensitive Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dannysullivan/4173190152/
    6. 6. 2013 Group Dynamics – Yawning! ๏  Yawning is contagious ๏  One yawn can kill a group’s momentum Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/supporttattoosandpiercingsatwork/8691355242/
    7. 7. 2013 Group Dynamics – Interrupting Cows ๏  Participants who interrupt others deprive us from data Knock knock. Who’s there? An interrupting cow. An interrupting c… Moo. Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cow_cartoon_04.svg
    8. 8. 2013 Moderator Bias – Experience ๏  Focus Groups are VERY reliant on a good moderator Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Leonard_Bernstein_3_Allan_Warren.jpg
    9. 9. 2013 Moderator Bias – Stamina ๏  A moderator must be cheerful and attentive, listen closely, take notes, and plan the next question for 2 hours. Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:David_Burlet_Friedrichsbau_variet%C3%A9_Plate_spinning_act.jpg
    10. 10. 2013 Moderator Bias – Trust ๏  Moderators must instill a sense of trust with multiple people in a short amount of time Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/anspach/954545/sizes/m/in/photostream/
    11. 11. 2013 Difficult to Analyze – Wandering ๏  Wandering conversations hamper note taking efficiency Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/happy_sleepy/3351331153/sizes/m/in/photostream/
    12. 12. 2013 Difficult to Analyze – Insights ๏  Almost impossible to quantify how many people said something ๏  Hard to break down the data into actionable insights Source: http://www.texample.net/tikz/examples/escher-brick-penrose-t
    13. 13. 2013 Difficult to Analyze – Shallow ๏  You can’t get in-depth answers Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hilton_mug_shot.jpeg
    14. 14. 2013 Difficult to Analyze – Marketing Data ๏  We are UXers gathering Marketing data Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/justjenn/8546896516/
    15. 15. 2013 No Conclusions – Always reacting ๏  Participants are always reacting – they’re not thoughtful Source: http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3v3d37/
    16. 16. 2013 No Conclusions – No consensus ๏  Not going to build consensus among participants – leaves topics hanging Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/purplemattfish/3185323763/sizes/m/in/photostream/
    17. 17. 2013 No Conclusions – No one used anything ๏  We can gather how participants feel about something and their out-of-context desires… ๏  But we aren’t gathering real-world data ๏  It’s all made up… by our participants
    18. 18. 2013 Overnight Flight Example ๏  Focus groups said that they wanted healthy snacks Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gezellig-girl/3784584015
    19. 19. 2013 Overnight Flight Example ๏  Stewardess knew better and had chocolate and sweets ready to go Source: http://vintageseatcushions.deviantart.com/art/chocolate-fiend-154724164
    20. 20. 2013 Why UXers Should Avoid Focus Groups ๏  Group dynamics are terrible ๏  Moderator bias is inevitable ๏  Difficult to analyze marketing data ๏  You’re not going to reach consensus So get up, get, get, get down Focus Groups are a joke in your town

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