Online Focus Groups
A cheaper way to approximate conventional "face-to-face" focus groups is to rely on email and web environment, so called, online focus groups. There are no geographic barriers and complete transcript of the session is available immediately.
Although online forum discussions are unlikely to reflect the average user's concerns, they can be a good, fast and inexpensive way of getting in touch with "power users." These users have needs that will sometimes surface later for the average user. Thus, addressing the “power users” needs may be a way of getting a head start on future usability work.
MaCorr provides password protected, customizable and friendly, virtual discussion environment (chat rooms) for our clients. A typical online discussion includes 8 participants and continues 60 minutes, on average. There is almost no limit, however, to the number of participants or the discussion length. MaCorr moderators work with clients to understand research objectives and to develop discussion questionnaire (script). They lead the discussion in order to ensure client objectives are being addressed. Clients are able to monitor the discussion online and contribute their own questions to the moderator and the participants while the group is in progress.
Additional advantages of online focus groups:
- Responses are more objective (not face to face)
- Cost effective
- Recruitment process is fast and easy from a wider geographic scope
- Inviting via email is less intrusive
- Faster turn around
- No “one way mirror”
The disadvantages, in comparison to regular focus groups, include:
- Inability to view facial expressions and body language, which sometimes yield important information
- Not suitable for testing physical objects
- Biased sample size. Online focus groups participants tend to be people with above-average interest in computers and in online discussion groups
Password protected, customizable chat room environment:
User friendly and fully customizable chat room environment: