Focus Groups – Do You See What I See?

Focus groups and card sorting are interesting design research methods. It seems the consensus is that they’re useful in particular circumstances such as gathering initial insights and structuring information hierarchies. As we add more tools to our toolbox, these are worthwhile methods to have; comparing users’ perceptions to our own. I enjoy their flexibility.mg_3626_0832

Card sorting doesn’t have to be confined to just pairings, and like artifacts, can serve as a conversation starter and point of reference in a general UX research practice. Focus groups can often turn into a casual conversation amongst friends or acquaintances. And both are simple enough that I anticipate they’ll always be around.

“What kind of role does perception play in design?” 

They say perception is reality. And it’s an art and a science in deciphering whether participants of a UX research study perceive things accurately enough to constitute a valid opinion. They say a democracy is only as smart as its citizens.

“If I would have asked them what they wanted
they would have said a faster horse.” – Henry Ford.

Group think, confirmation biases, social desirability bias, priming, framing, the observation effect… It seems radically difficult to study people and their perspectives without influencing it. I think action speaks louder than words and imagine candid observation of peoples’ actions and habits to be more insightful for design than getting a group of them together where they’re susceptible to the concepts listed above. Look at this picture below. Can’t you just see the social dynamic? I can’t help but notice retrospectively the apparent judgement we’re casting on the participant’s every move. What affect does this have on the study’s outcome? I imagine it brings the deviation closer to the norm.

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