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CASE STUDY: Social Media Recruiting

Project Background: 

A major office supply company requested a research project to test out a new line of printable binder dividers among office managers and administrative assistants.

Client Objectives:

The main objective of the research was to understand what office professionals are looking for in binder dividers and how their new dividers measured up to consumers‘ expectations.  Through an actual product test of two sets of dividers, the client wanted to make sure that their printing instructions were easy to follow and foolproof in helping consumers print flawless and professional-looking dividers.

The Challenge:

The target recruit for this study was very specific and highly multifaceted.  We needed to recruit a broad spectrum of administrative professionals that use binder dividers on a regular basis.  These people had to work for one of the client-provided companies.  Among these specifications, we had sub-segments within the recruit and required participants who use a variety of divider brands and styles plus and additional segment of small business owners.  On top of all this, we needed 300 of these people!

Our Approach:

We attacked this recruit across a variety of social media platforms in order to fill each segment and meet our participant quotas.  We found professionals at the target companies using an elaborate social media outreach approach.  We targeted interest groups, brand pages/profiles, and specific job titles on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

The Outcome:

By implementing a cross-platform social media recruiting strategy, we were able to find our target audience and ended up overfilling this seemingly challenging recruit.  We found qualified participants who were eager to share their opinions by tapping into a variety of social media networks.

The Upside:

We were able to turn a challenging and complicated recruit into a win-win for our client, the participants, and ourselves.  We provided our client with enough respondents so they could test their new divider line and optimize the product before it hit stores.  Our participants had the opportunity to share their opinions and impact a product in their day-to-day work.  We were able to refresh and add to our social media panel of respondents while once again proving that no recruit is too challenging when you harness the power of social media.

CASE STUDY: CheckPoint Usability

Project Background: 

A luxury car company was timing an expansive (and expensive) website re-launch with a well-placed Super Bowl advertisement.  The intent of the ad was to drive people to the new site, to naturally this automaker wanted to make sure the fresh look would be usable by the target demographic.

Client Objectives:

Confident in the quality of the ad, the client wanted to confirm that two distinct Super Bowl audiences would connect with the website and the brand.  It was important that the older demographic (likely to purchase the car) be able to easily navigate the redesigned website.  It was equally important that the website also appeal to the younger audience; the client‘s new target demographic.

The Challenge:

While the project objectives weren‘t too difficult, the project timeline did present a bit of a challenge.  The Super Bowl takes place on a Sunday, and the client requested the study on the Monday before.  That meant that we needed to be ready to perform live customer usability testing by Wednesday in order to deliver the report and recommendations in time for the big game.

Our Approach:

The logistical simplicity of our CheckPoint usability process allowed us to guarantee the client a quick and easy turnaround.  We knew the system would be able to give us a sense of what both target audiences were looking for, and that our prescriptive report would allow the client to quickly act on our recommendations.

The Outcome:

Not only were we able to pick up on a few minor non sequiturs and organizational issues within the website, but also catch a major oversight both target audiences were looking for: PRICE.  In order to access the cost of a new car, users, both young and old, had to link out of the automaker‘s website to that of a local dealership.  This essentially undermined the experience the client was investing so much to provide.

The Upside:

After just four customer usability tests, the client left the facility to immediately fix this potentially costly flaw.  The CheckPoint usability process itself provided the necessary information to make the Super Bowl ad spend worthwhile for the client.  Timely research also enabled the client to go into game day confident that both target audiences would connect with the website, and importantly, the brand.

CASE STUDY: Building a Wiki

Project Background: 

A wiki is a collaborative website where anyone with access can contribute content and modify at will.  Perhaps more famous for their educational applications, wikis have also been used by businesses to create simple knowledge management systems, or function as a collaborative software.

Wikis build relational knowledge database systems, capturing the links between isolated pieces of information.  Though this results in a non-linear navigation system, wikis are a more accurate method of structuring information than traditional static databases.  This organic structure makes for intuitive search.

Client Objectives:

One of our clients wanted to create a definitive resource for third part video game developers, and they already had the qualitative research data to do so.  In fact, they had well over 90 different studies worth of data.  

Having performed some of the initial research for the client, we were asked to combine our own findings with the insights from other usability studies in order to produce a Game Developers Handbook.  After discussing the proposed handbook with the client, it became clear that what they really wanted was to develop a searchable database of best practices, which could serve as a reference point for game developers and save a lot of headaches.

The Challenge:

Our role was to take this vast collection of assorted findings and consolidate it into a comprehensive, yet comprehensible catalog.  This meant reviewing the research data, identifying best practices, and then re-organizing 90+ individual reports into a useful tool for the developer community.

Due to our familiarity with some of the findings going in, we knew that this wouldn’t be a clean job by any means.  Creating neat categories from messy data rarely works; insights interact, and are dependent on relationships between variables.

Our Approach:

We decided that to structure all of this data, while capturing the inter-relationships, we would need to build a wiki.  Approaching the project as a wiki meant using the existing research to note relationships, or affinities, and then come up with headings to describe the major groups of relationships. 

Instead of organizing information, we created a custom taxonomy to describe the mountain of data we were working with.  This process organically revealed the basic best practices hiding in those 90+ research reports.

The Outcome:

We identified eight groups, or types of findings to structure the wiki, and describe the best practices of video game development, as evidenced by previous research.  After pouring the existing data into this structure, we cross-indexed the contents of each group to map out all of the relationships.

Then we handed the wiki off to the client, so the developers could access the database, and add their own insights where applicable.

The Upside:

The initial insights were valuable to the client, but they would become even more valuable if they had an infrastructure for ongoing learning.  We didn't just cut and paste existing research; we laid the foundation for a living resource and useful tool.

The relationships established in the wiki made finding useful information an intuitive process for developers, providing ongoing benefits for the client.

CASE STUDY: Website Usability Research

Project Background: 

A popular web-hosting company requested a usability project to test out the functionality of their newly redesigned website before launch, as well as compare to the competitive set.

Client Objectives:

The main objective was to conduct research to test their website redesign before the site went live.  They wanted to understand how to optimize their site’s features and offerings so that consumers across a wide spectrum of technology experience levels could easily navigate the site, find what they need, and ultimately sign up for a hosting plan.

The Challenge:

The client wanted us to help figure out how they could stand out in a crowded web hosting industry.  We needed to understand what people are looking for in a host and what they trust (features, credibility partners, gimmicky vs. professional, etc.).  Our client also wanted to determine cost expectations for web hosting among their target consumers.

Our Approach:

We conducted usability testing among a range of technology experience levels to understand the needs of a variety of potential customers.  These people included web designers, developers, and small business owners.  We tested our client‘s site using our proprietary usability metrics, CheckPoint.  We captured what was and was not working on their site and their competitors‘ and made suggestions for best practices.

The Outcome:

We uncovered several usability issues as well as points of frustration for users.  This allowed the client to make changes and go live with the best version of the website.  Our client was able to incorporate features and functionality that participants liked about their competitors‘ sites and stayed away from the sources of frustration or confusion.  We were able to recommend a way to position our client‘s offerings in a way that appeals to and is understood by beginner and advanced users alike.

The Upside:

We were able to help our client optimize their web hosting site by ensuring it was easy-to-use and understandable across a variety of user experience levels.  Ultimately, our testing helped to boost our client‘s sales while ensuring that consumers had the best possible experience using their site.

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