TRANSPARENCY & CONSISTENT COMMUNICATION ARE ALSO HALLMARKS OF PROJEKT202’S RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

By    Bryce Cottle    Program Manager projekt202

By Bryce Cottle
Program Manager
projekt202

A core component of the projekt202 methodology is understanding the needs of users via foundational analysis and design research. This is uncharted territory for those who do not normally operate in the user- centered design space. 

We realize that the research process can appear mysterious and opaque to our clients. The activities and associated outcomes that occur during the research process are new and unfamiliar, and uncertainty exists about ability to provide input and feedback into the research itself.  

When a company is spending thousands to millions of dollars to achieve an outcome, “Trust us, we’re the experts” is simply not good enough to put minds at ease. Our clients expect high levels of transparency and the ability to provide input on a regular cadence. This is why we strive to find new, interesting ways to communicate.

Keeping clients engaged and happy throughout a project is equally as important as producing high-quality deliverables. We have found that the following methods help reveal the reality behind Revealing Reality (pun fully intended) throughout the course of a project: 

Research blog 

The primary goal of a research blog is to improve our clients’ ability to understand, follow along, and know where they are in our Experience Strategy and Insight process. Blog entries are uploaded to a client-specific site on a regular cadence, with the ability to search for, and navigate to, past entries.

We have found that research blogs are the most effective way to communicate our progress throughout a project, as they contain a large amount of information, and clients have expressed feeling engaged/having a clear understanding of the research activities.  

A point to consider when employing this method is that the blogs take a considerable amount of time to create/maintain, which can increase the overall cost of an engagement due to the resource time required.

Participant data sheets

Similar to blogs, participant data sheets are engaging ways to communicate data on research participants to clients by providing a summary of each participant in a consistent format. The research team creates a template of content sections (demographic information, detail specific to the scope of the research) and summarizes the notes captured for each participant. 

These are more efficient than research blogs because the data is already being captured as part of the research process, so the effort is mostly a matter of formatting. However, it is important to note that the scope of the information is limited to the perspective of single users, not overarching themes.

Including users in the process

This method is exactly what it sounds like: simply have clients participate in the research process, so they get real-time insight into the process and research findings.

While this can be an effective way to keep clients informed as to what activities are being accomplished/what their users are saying, and truly pulls back the curtain on the research process, it is the most difficult to coordinate. This is due to conflicting schedules across all parties involved; on a project with a compressed timeline, this can be extremely difficult to manage. 

Sharing raw data (e.g., Evernote, Dropbox Paper)

In this scenario, we invite the client to see the 'raw' data while setting expectations to not take any one interview as the needs for all. This method is the lowest level of effort and provides full transparency into research data points that clients can refer to later.

The primary risk with this approach is that large amounts of data can be difficult and confusing for clients to synthesize. The aim of our projects is to use the gathered data to provide insight into overarching themes and opportunities; providing the raw data does not necessarily achieve this.

CONCLUSION

The above communication methods are by no means the only ways to keep clients informed and engaged throughout a project. However, they are good starting points for pulling back the curtain on the research process.  

At projekt202, we find that providing transparency throughout an engagement leads to more satisfied clients – clients that want to continue working with us to transform the experience of their users in ways greater than they originally imagined.