Updated: Jan 3
Written by: Larry Goodfellow
In part one of this article we look at a key feature we have been building into our platform. The feature is allocation sliders which allows market research online communities to determine where participants think money, and resources should be focused. In the second part of this article we interviewed Brandon Eddy, one of our key programmers, who has been instrumental in designing this feature for us.
Allocation Sliders Help Budget Time. Money and Emotions
Brandon Eddy has recently been building a key new feature into our community software. This new feature is an allocation slider, and it allows research participants to divide up amounts, whether this be money, time, energy etc. The allocation slider feature also provides better understanding for customers to see visually where participants are placing certain amounts of time, money or energy etc.
The idea for allocation sliders initially came up when discussing the needs of municipal governments in regards to budget concerns and how market research online communities might alleviate these concerns. There is a lot of discussion about where the budget should be spent, and how much should go to various initiatives. The allocation slider now allows governments the ability to ask their constituents where they would like to see money spent, and how much should be spent on each. This provides a good framework to see what a city deems important. A question that uses an allocation slider uses two or more sliders, with the sum total equaling 100%.
Understanding Time Usage
Another way to see the benefit is when asking about time and how respondents spend it. An example is understanding data usage for certain age groups for cable/internet providers like the study Pew Research did. Asking various age groups to use the allocation slider to show how much time they spend on their mobile phone looking at YouTube, Netflix, Facebook, Instagram, other video sites, can help a company determine which plans are best suited for certain age groups. University students may spend 60% of their time watching video streaming services on their mobile phone, while those ages 63 and up spend 80% of their time looking at Facebook and the remaining time looking at news sites. The provider can better offer higher data usage plans for the age groups that need more, while offering less data to those who use less.
For the allocation slider, I knew that this could be a fun tool to use, and look attractive. My goal was two-fold, have an eye-catching slider that would look good, and perform well. Every time I’ve used a slider, I’ve always found them fun and interactive, and I wanted ours to be the same. When creating it I constantly was asking myself, “is it easy to use? Does it work as expected? Is it fun to use?” And I believe all 3 of those are true.
2) Why do you think this application will be so useful for a) the participant b) the customer or government?
I think it will be useful for the participant because it can more accurately reflect how a participant truly feels about something. For example: If someone is asked a question and they can only choose “Yes” or “No” the result is lopsided showing that the user (participant) is very much in favour of one idea, and very against the other, when in reality they may feel slightly more for the one side but also understand the opposing side. Humans feel a broad range of emotions, much more than a hard yes or no, and this slider will be able to reflect those feelings more accurately.
As for the customer and government, this is extremely useful to them for things such as budgets, concerns and public opinion. With this tool, they can get extremely accurate feedback on how the users feel and what the users (which in this case would be the public) think should happen in terms of policies, and budget spending. This slider will enable the government to more accurately gauge how the public feels about specific issues and spending.
3) What was the most difficult thing you faced while designing this application?
The most difficult task I had while designing this was definitely getting the sliders to work in unison, and have them all add up to 100. Because there can be anywhere from 2-20 sliders (20 might be a bit excessive!), but regardless they must all add up to 100 at the end, and they must all align properly. That was a daunting task. In the end, it worked out great, and I got everything working, thankfully!
4) What makes allocation sliders different than scales?
I think they could also be used to replace scales in certain instances. Scale questions are still good, but allocation sliders can produce even more accurate results in market research online communities because the slider allows for a range of emotions rather than just one. You could ask, “Please share your emotions about the following ________,” then have several allocation sliders, that gauge multiple emotions. This could be great for public opinion polls.
The goal of every feature we create at Insightrix Communities is to help our clients engage with the end user and allow the end user a clear voice to express their thoughts and opinions with as little as bias as possible. We believe that the allocation slider will help online research community participants to go beyond a hard “yes” and or “no” and give the customer a clearer voice so that the community can make better decisions.
If you would like to find out more about how our online community software can help, please feel free to contact us. You can also follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, or check us out on LinkedIn!