How to design focus group questions and get actionable data

August 22, 2017

The main reason for conducting focus groups is to get actionable data. Data that you can use to improve your product and reach your goals. Asking the right focus group questions is the first step to making sure you get the right feedback. Let’s take a deeper look.

Let’s say you’re a UX designer and your job is to design an app for ordering pizzas. Your goal is to make it easy for people to sign up, pick the pizzas they want and place their orders. Plus, you need to get the users to order as much extra stuff along the way as possible.

You’ve designed a working prototype in Invision, and you’re ready to test the design. You want to make sure it achieves these goals.

How do you go about doing that?

Start with simple tasks

The first step is to get your participants to complete the actions that you’ve designed. Make sure you don’t over-explain what or how to do them. That’s because you want to see how they would be using it ‘in the wild’.

It often helps It could be as simple as “Please make a pizza order for you and your 4 other friends.”

Next, you want to observe exactly what they do. This is where having participants in person is a great advantage. You can see their body language and where they’re looking.

Make notes as they’re completing the task. Are they getting stuck? Are they using the prototype in the way that you thought they would? Are there functions or buttons the participants are using in an unexpected way?

Once they’ve finished the task (or stopped because they got stuck), you want to follow up with questions.

Asking the right follow up questions

You don’t want to ask open-ended vague questions. Avoid questions like “So what do you think of it?”. You also want to avoid asking leading questions. That’s a question where you’re suggesting to the participant what answer you want to hear. E.g. “How amazingly simple was it to order a pizza?”

A good question would be something like:
“How would you rate the experience of ordering a pizza from 1 (very difficult) to 5 (very easy).”
Follow up their response by asking them why they chose their answer.

Having a rating scale can help with comparing your data later on. Following up their responses by drilling down into the ‘why’ will help with identifying what the underlying causes of the problems are.

Here’s a quick checklist for your focus group questions:

  • Is it non-leading?
  • Is it non-biased?
  • Is it specific and not open ended?
  • Does it help you identify root causes?
  • Is it relevant to the objective?

Making sure your questions follow these guidelines will help you get better data from your focus groups and user tests.

Ready to run a test? Askable can help you get the people you need. Click here to learn more.

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