Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.
2013
Five Arguments Against
Focus Groups — And How
to Overcome Them
Bob Thomas
Manager of User Experience, Liberty Mutual
...
2013
Five Arguments Against Focus
Groups
1. You spend your time listening to users
instead of observing their behavior
2. ...
2013
Five Arguments Against Focus
Groups
4. It’s wrong to allow users to design
products in focus groups
5. Focus groups a...
2013
Two Camps in User Experience
2013
2013
Argument 1: You spend your time listening
to users instead of observing their behavior
๏ Change a flaw to a strength:...
2013
๏ Then build a discussion around activities
your participants just completed
2013
Argument 2: Focus groups are ruined by
dominant participants and group think
๏ Control the room: set the ground rules...
2013
๏ Skilled moderating requires inclusiveness
and facilitation
2013
๏ Summarize what ALL participants say.
This ensures everyone’s words count.
2013
๏ Prepare effectively
- Write a moderator’s guide or test plan
- Do practice runs
2013
Argument 3: Focus groups rely on users’
abilities to predict their future behavior
๏ Change a flaw to a strength: Rec...
2013
๏ Ultimately you want to base your
strategic direction on what users say they
will do, based on that past experience
2013
Argument 4: It’s wrong to allow users in
focus groups to design products
๏ Change the focus: Show them designs and
ge...
2013
๏ Focus groups let you showcase ideas
that you can then usability test
Session 1
Claim via
phone call
Claim via
mobil...
2013
๏ Focus groups don’t help you make design
decisions. They help you make strategic ones.
2013
Argument 5: They only become the methodology
of choice because everyone understands them
๏ Make them work for you: OK...
2013
๏ Management loves focus groups. It’s a
mental model that makes sense to them.
Source: www.CartoonStock.com
2013
๏ Focus groups can end the opinion wars
Source: Photo courtesy of Schlesinger Associates’ New Jersey facility
2013
Conclusion
1. You spend your time listening to users
instead of observing their behavior
2. Focus groups are ruined b...
2013
Let’s keep focus groups in the
UX toolkit. Thank you!
2013
Bob Thomas
Manager of User Experience
Liberty Mutual
E-mai...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

Five Arguments Against Focus Groups - And How To Overcome Them

1,247 views

Published on

Focus groups can help marketing teams figure out what consumers want so they can build the right products for them. But this methodology has been co-opted by user experience teams, who incorporate traditional UX exercises into focus group sessions. The argument against focus groups involves the inability to predict future behavior, the great divide between what users say and what they do. The argument for them is that with preparation and a skilled moderator, they provide actionable results. Can we UX researchers rely on focus groups to drive design and strategy? Or are they the wrong tool for the job?

Bob Thomas believes that focus groups belong in the UX toolkit. They can provide high-level results that enable companies to make strategic decisions around product direction, early in the development cycle. Their success depends on preparation and good moderator skills.

Bob Thomas is Manager of User Experience at Liberty Mutual, where he has worked to expand usability best practices and build a UX team. He has presented at local and national UXPA conferences. He holds an MS in Human Factors in Information Design from Bentley University, and an MBA from Suffolk University. He is on the Board of Directors of New Hampshire UXPA.

Published in: Business, Technology
  • Be the first to comment

Five Arguments Against Focus Groups - And How To Overcome Them

  1. 1. 2013 Five Arguments Against Focus Groups — And How to Overcome Them Bob Thomas Manager of User Experience, Liberty Mutual robertl.thomas@libertymutual.com @bobthomas
  2. 2. 2013 Five Arguments Against Focus Groups 1. You spend your time listening to users instead of observing their behavior 2. Focus groups are ruined by dominant participants and group think 3. Focus groups rely on users’ abilities to predict their future behavior
  3. 3. 2013 Five Arguments Against Focus Groups 4. It’s wrong to allow users to design products in focus groups 5. Focus groups are selected as a methodology, because everyone understands them
  4. 4. 2013 Two Camps in User Experience 2013
  5. 5. 2013 Argument 1: You spend your time listening to users instead of observing their behavior ๏ Change a flaw to a strength: Make focus group participants do things
  6. 6. 2013 ๏ Then build a discussion around activities your participants just completed
  7. 7. 2013 Argument 2: Focus groups are ruined by dominant participants and group think ๏ Control the room: set the ground rules early
  8. 8. 2013 ๏ Skilled moderating requires inclusiveness and facilitation
  9. 9. 2013 ๏ Summarize what ALL participants say. This ensures everyone’s words count.
  10. 10. 2013 ๏ Prepare effectively - Write a moderator’s guide or test plan - Do practice runs
  11. 11. 2013 Argument 3: Focus groups rely on users’ abilities to predict their future behavior ๏ Change a flaw to a strength: Recruit participants based on past experience ๏ Build discussions around task-based scenarios Primary Recruit: Have filed an auto insurance claim within the last 12 months
  12. 12. 2013 ๏ Ultimately you want to base your strategic direction on what users say they will do, based on that past experience
  13. 13. 2013 Argument 4: It’s wrong to allow users in focus groups to design products ๏ Change the focus: Show them designs and get their reactions 54% negative words, including “busy” and “overwhelming”
  14. 14. 2013 ๏ Focus groups let you showcase ideas that you can then usability test Session 1 Claim via phone call Claim via mobile app Claim via tablet app Claim via computer Research claims online Claim via live chat Someone Injured 6 1 0 0 0 0 Car Towed 7 0 0 0 0 0 Car Drivable 6 0 0 0 1 0 First Accident 6 0 0 0 1 0 Second Accident 5 0 0 1 1 0 Totals 30 1 0 1 3 0
  15. 15. 2013 ๏ Focus groups don’t help you make design decisions. They help you make strategic ones.
  16. 16. 2013 Argument 5: They only become the methodology of choice because everyone understands them ๏ Make them work for you: OK, so management understands focus groups. Why not use them to sell UX?
  17. 17. 2013 ๏ Management loves focus groups. It’s a mental model that makes sense to them. Source: www.CartoonStock.com
  18. 18. 2013 ๏ Focus groups can end the opinion wars Source: Photo courtesy of Schlesinger Associates’ New Jersey facility
  19. 19. 2013 Conclusion 1. You spend your time listening to users instead of observing their behavior 2. Focus groups are ruined by dominant participants and group think 3. Focus groups rely on users’ abilities to predict their future behavior 4. It’s wrong to allow users to design products in focus groups 5. Focus groups only become the methodology of choice because everyone understands them 1. Make users do things 2. Prepare. Set ground rules. Facilitate. 3. Recruit based on past experience and then create scenarios 4. Use them to confirm and deny ideas 5. Rely on them to end the opinion wars 5 Arguments Against Focus Groups 5 Ways to Overcome Them
  20. 20. 2013 Let’s keep focus groups in the UX toolkit. Thank you! 2013 Bob Thomas Manager of User Experience Liberty Mutual E-mail: robertl.thomas@libertymutual.com Twitter: @bobthomas Source: Original photo courtesy of the Abraham Lincoln Art Gallery

×