Updated: Jan 3
Written by: Megan McDowell
The development of technology has created ample opportunities within market research.
The development of phones and their widespread usage, of taking photos and videos to share perspectives and experiences has revolutionized the way we communicate with each other. This widespread usage has provided ample opportunities for research especially within Market Research Online Communities. Now we can ask participants to share their experiences as they happen through photo, video, and text and or the combination of the three. Prior to this, researchers relied heavily on participants recalling their experience from memory, which often led to a host of minor and sometimes major details being left out, whether the participant thought that those details were unimportant or had simply forgot to mention them. Now we can gather more in-depth qualitative research for online communities.
Seeing Different Perspectives
We have been working heavily on developing our market research online community software. One key element of focus has been our diary mode research tools to allow clients to understand their customer’s experiences first hand. We have been working to create different options for this type of research. The private studies allow individuals to upload videos, photos, and text in confidence, which can promote more honest feedback and sharing. While the other use is bulletin board studies where individuals can view and comment on others experiences once they have shared theirs. This creates a different dynamic allowing for individuals to see the perspectives of other participants and interact with other participants as they discuss among themselves.
We wanted to talk with our key programmer Brett Riekman, to find out what his main focus on developing these tools was.
1. What was the most difficult aspect of building a tool in the software to allow participants to share their experiences?
The most difficult aspect was making sure users only saw what they were supposed to see while allowing administrators to see everything, somewhat due to not being built for this initially SQL queries needed to be different for this scenario. Also part of the difficulty is that there is multiple buttons and ways for a user to make a post, one by replying and the other by adding a new comment.
2. What did you see as being key for this tool and the user experience?
The security aspect was key, we needed to make it secure so that only the administrator would be able to see the posts that the user made. It is very important that the users can feel safe sharing their experiences, some people may be hesitant to elicit information in a group forum or setting but may be more willing if they know a limited amount of people will be able to access that information.
3. When you are designing the tool do you think of how to program it first, and then consider usability after?
When tools are made you need to consider usability to the best of your ability, especially before you begin programming. Ideally I like to think of what are the minimum inputs required to get the desired outcome and whether or not it will be convenient for the user to use. Basically creating a vision and then striving to reach that vision.
The hardest part of file manager was managing video uploads from various mobile devices. Different devices sometimes use different formats for video and there were troubles with some of these not being compatible with browsers. Because of this, we needed to create a way to transcode videos into a suitable format before saving the file.
Just the ability to upload and manage files I thought would be great. There are many uses for this such as displaying images in the news articles in your online research community. Also having the ability to look at all the files uploaded including user uploads which allow admins to be able to see what was uploaded to discussions and easily delete the image if for example it is inappropriate.
4. What makes the file manager tool so interesting for you?
What makes this interesting is that it can allow for many different file types to be uploaded. The admins can upload images, videos, PDFs, word, excel, PowerPoint… etc. which could then be added to their newsletters as well. This also interested me a great deal too because it makes the MROC as a whole a little more portable in some ways and not needing to know which images belong in what folders. It also aided in homogenizing the software making it easier on the version control and for the user to upload their own image to use for the logo of their community.
If you would like to find out more about how our online community software can meet your needs, please contact us. You can also follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook, or check us out on LinkedIn!