Convenience the winner for online research methods
In response to COVID, much of the research that would usually be conducted face-to-face has moved online. Whilst the industry debates whether we’ll ever move back to the pre-COVID volumes of face-to-face research, we thought we’d take a moment to see what participants think about the online research experience.
And overwhelmingly, they tell us they love it!
Convenience is by far the main reason that people enjoy online research. Convenience means not having to allow extra time for preparation and travel, not needing to organise babysitters, more easily fitting sessions in around work, and simply the comfort of participating from home. The implications this has for opening up research to those who ordinarily wouldn’t be able to participate in a face to face methodology should perhaps be considered when building out qualitative projects.
“I’m really enjoying the ability to participate from home these days, especially now that I’m heavily pregnant on top of being a caregiver for a toddler.”
“I enjoyed it, it was interesting to spend some time sharing opinions and discussing with other people. I liked not having to leave home, made it much more convenient and less confronting / formal.”
“The convenience. I live slightly out of town and lead a very busy life, online via zoom or whatever fits with my movements far better, and I really don’t think much is lost.”
“Participating from home is hard to beat, and not having to travel is a real bonus and as a mum in regional Victoria.”
The opportunity to share one’s opinion is also a huge factor for enjoying online research. Many value the opportunity to contribute and to feel heard, finding research a worthwhile experience. In addition, the move to online is making participation more accessible – a more diverse mix of people are able to share thoughts, some who wouldn’t normally be able to get to face-to-face research. Further, feeling safe and comfortable also came up as a benefit to participating from home, particularly in the midst of COVID.
“It’s great that I can give my opinion and have it listened to and maybe acted upon.”
“I’ve found it a stimulating opportunity to take my frequent thoughts about products and services and channel them into something that can be constructive (I hope).”
“The interaction with other people to hear different point of views.”
“With covid and having a young family i am more available doing it online even if its a zoom call.”
But there are some who feel they miss the human element that is normally at the heart of qualitative research. A small proportion feel that the flow of conversation isn’t as easy, it’s harder to read people in an online environment and face to face in general is a nicer experience.
“A little clunky. Not always opportunities to give certain feedback and feelings.”
“Sterile environment, no vibe or energy.”
“Harder to read people online than in person. I do enjoy group interaction more than just seeing video response of others.”
On the tech side of things, 94% of participants had no trouble navigating the various platforms and taking part. The community, across all age groups, has quickly adopted online communication tools to stay in touch with friends and family, and their ability to use these for online research is now strong.
“It was my first Zoom and I liked how it worked. Everyone contributed either verbally or in writing or both. It enabled a greater diversity as all participants were spread about the country, not just one area.”
“It was very simple, easy to participate and enjoyable.”
But this feedback does tell us all that there are some important things to keep in mind when it comes to online research. Here are some tips for ensuring participants enjoy their online qual experience …
- Ensure everyone understands the rules of engagement for your session… do you want people to utilise the mute feature? Do you expect people to use the hands-up function?
- Participants appreciate the skill of a good moderator in being able to keep the flow of the conversation, so continue to fine tune these skills to suit the online environment. Making sure everyone feels heard in what can sometimes be a clunky online environment is important
- If sessions are longer than 60mins consider building in breaks for participants to grab a cuppa or a snack. Activities are also a great way to keep up the energy
- Ask respondents to be ready 10mins beforehand so the log-in process is smoother and they are ready to go
Want to hear more about how you can make online qual work for your respondents? We’d love to have a chat! Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org