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Is Your Research In Danger?

Submitted by on June 25, 2011 – 1:39 amNo Comment

When it comes to building a business or designing a product, talking with your customers (or users) is essential.  do the research to know the needs, culture, and world they live in, and  do some testing with your users to make sure your product is actually usable. Once you’ve decided to do research the next logical step is to go and find those customers to talk to.

Embarking on this next step is recruiting, similar to job recruiting, but you’re just trying to find the right people to talk to.  And when I mention “right” that means the people who actually use or would use your product. For some products the right person is a housewife who washes lots of clothes.  For another product it is a Ruby on Rails Expert. No matter who the right person is, he or she is busy with his or her own life and will need to be incentivised to spend their time talking or testing with you.

Here is where danger comes creeping in.  The incentive (be it product, discounts, or cash) get the right people to spend time, but it also attracts people who see an easy way to make supplemental income.  Most of these “professional participants” will fudge the truth to get in.  There are website that even help people find paid research studies (Guinea Pigs Get Paid and Paid Focus Groups are just some of them).  If you get a bunch of people who are all just trying to answer what they think you want them to hear, then your data will more harmful to your project than if you did no research at all!!

So be smart. Create a screening survey, follow-up and verify over the phone. You’ll be able to screen out the lazy fakers this way. But there are others who try hard. I’ve heard of people who use different emails, phone numbers, and names to get into multiple studies at the same company.  There is even one lady going around Silicone Valley sporting wigs and other disguises to get in! So to keep out the persistent fakers, keep a database (even a simple one), or take photos.  You can even keep track of participants on Facebook by having them “like” or “friend” your company or research page.

Be a smart researcher or designer and heed my advice, good luck!

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