Too often, our research tells us, people are given a poor experience when they participate in research. Too often, we are guilty of ignoring participants in our research design and implementation processes, treating them a free and replaceable resource. If you take a moment to think about ir, you will realize that the experience someone gets when participating in research is largely unchanged since market research became an industry. Sure, some of the techniques and tools have changed, but fundamentally the experience is the same, particularly in the survey world.
Is UX on your Radar?
But the world people live in has changed dramatically over the same period. Even if we narrow our focus to online surveys and to the 21st century, too often an online survey today looks and feels very much as it did in the year 2000. As an industry overall, we have not taken advantage of the advances in technology to change the research participant experience. Simply put, UX has not been on our radar. How many research agencies have UX experts working for them on survey design? How many researchers are trained in UX principles and exposed to UX best practices? In a world where we compete with the likes of Facebook, Instragram, Youtube for people’s time, we would argue that we need to offer not only a good, but actually a great experience, if we want a broad representation of people to willingly participate in research in 2020 and beyond.
Shifting investment upstream
Our industry puts a huge investment into post fieldwork data cleaning activities in order to ensure data quality to clients. Whilst we all want quality data, perhaps we are going out about this the wrong way? Perhaps we are becoming guilty of too much polishing? For example, we have heard of cases where up to 80% of survey respondents are thrown out of data-sets because of data quality fears! At this point you have to a) wonder at the sources they are using,  b) wonder at the severity of the algorithms they are deploying and  c) wonder at the poor experience they are giving people? Is it really the fault of the participant for straight-lining on a huge grid at minute 35 in a survey they are taking on their mobile, or answering ‘who cares’ to an open-end at minute 40, or being caught be a trick question at minute 45? Are we not hugely biasing the data, making it worse rather than better by giving people poor experiences and then undertaking these extreme data cleaning practices? What if the money which is invested in data cleaning were to be invested in creating great user experiences in the first place, what would happen? We believe that in the short term at least the same level of data quality would be achieved, but that over time that quality would actually increase, as would speed, as we see a significant increase in response and completion rates. Pie in the sky? Our experience tells us not… We know that deploying GRBN’s participant experience best practices deliver greater user experiences, leading to the increased response rates and higher data quality. The companies participating in the ENGAGE MR coaching program have been able to benefit from these best practices, so get in touch if you would like to too?
New research-on-research to get underway
We will be filling version 2.0 of the ENGAGE Handbook with practical tips from experts at our partner companies, as well as from the extensive knowledge base we have already built up on how to deliver great user experiences. Together with our partners, over the next few months, we will however be undertaking new research-on-research to add to our collective well of knowledge, and we will also be including the learnings from this research into the new ENGAGE Handbook. Please get in touch if you wish to be a part of this research.
Thanking our partners
We would like to reiterate our huge thanks our partners. Without their deep commitment to participant engagement, we would not be able to undertake this important work which everyone in our sector can benefit from. If would also like to contribute to this effort, please get in touch. Partnership packages are available for as little as US$1500. Research participants and end clients alike will thank you for your contribution to participant engagement and data quality.