Beverly Freeman - Longitudinal Research


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Many research methods enable a "snapshot in time" view into the user experience, whether it's a usability test of the first-encounter experience or a post-transaction satisfaction survey. People's interactions with and attitudes toward products and services, however, change over time. Longitudinal research involves collecting data from the same group of people at multiple points in time. Increasingly, online technologies are making it possible to conduct longitudinal studies that are scalable for researchers and engaging for participants. This talk will touch on a few case studies and best practices for conducting online longitudinal studies.

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Beverly Freeman - Longitudinal Research

  1. 1. Conducting longitudinal research with online diary studies Beverly Freeman, PayPal User Research Friday! November 2010
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  3. 3. (“The best worst 1 st date ever”)
  4. 4. What causes change over time? <ul><li>Learning curve </li></ul><ul><li>System reliability, scalability </li></ul><ul><li>Change in personal situation </li></ul><ul><li>Interaction with co-users </li></ul><ul><li>Variance in quality of service encounters </li></ul>
  5. 5. Benefits of online longitudinal studies <ul><li>Geographic diversity </li></ul><ul><li>Efficient data collection and analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Ability to capture infrequent moments of truth </li></ul><ul><li>Capture changes over time </li></ul>Old-school paper diaries. Rich in data, but a logistical pain in the rear.
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  7. 7. eBay homepage diary study
  8. 8. eBay homepage diary study
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  10. 10. “ I only used the homepage as a way to get to other pages” Change over time for both test and control, but even more so for the new homepage! (Beware the influence of asking the question)
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  12. 12. PayPal Black Friday mobile diary study
  13. 13. Mobile makes data collection easier
  14. 14. PayPal Black Friday mobile diary study
  15. 15. Moderator view
  16. 16. Participant view (web)
  17. 17. <ul><li>#1: Online and offline are friends </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Online longitudinal  feed into face-to-face research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Decide whom to invest time in to visit </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Gather context, establish rapport before showing up at doorstep </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>#2: Plan to be surprised in exploratory studies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Both time and the unknown will surface interesting stuff </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Take advantage of the medium, and plan for adjustments </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>#3: Make it interesting for participants in quant studies too! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Repetitive surveys  boredom  drop-off  sad researcher  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Spice it up a little </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Opportunity to gather exploratory data for another topic? </li></ul></ul></ul>
  18. 18. Thank you! <ul><li>Questions? </li></ul><ul><li>eHarmony stories? </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>Diary photo credit: