Monday, January 5, 2009

Importance of Focus Groups

Jacob recently posted the Case Study from our Transitions project. Here are the results from the study:

A 63% conversion rate (more than 60% of visitors to the web space engaged with the interactive tool), an average time on site of 8 minutes, 42 seconds and an 80% tool/survey completion rate across an average monthly volume of 37,850 unique website visitors! Response, conversions and simple engagement to the space and the tool are more than double that of the first-generation EGG. Manufacturing partners, managed care companies and global distributors are all actively seeking ways to integrate this program into their own sales efforts for 2009 and beyond.

You can read the full Case Study Here.

Here is the 27 question interactive tool that the Basement worked on.

From a developer's standpoint, the key lesson I took from this project is the importance of focus groups. Our team finished a majority of the project a couple weeks early so that we could give it a test run and "tweak it" a bit. Basically we had a group of volunteers enter the site with minimal instructions and watched what they did. It was amazing. Some people didn't find the tool. Those that did find the tool did not see any of the 6 videos we created, nor did they see the 3D glasses being built in the bottom right of the screen.

Afterwords, the users were asked questions and were able to give feedback. We were shocked by the comments. My favorite: "I wish I could see the pair of glasses that you recommended." (Um, excuse me sir, they were RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF YOUR FACE!) It is soo hard to sit back and have your hard work ripped to shreds. Yet, after licking my wounds it was an incredible educational experience. One that I am very glad that I went through, even if it was painful.

What the users were doing was clicking through the questions as fast as they could so that they could get to the end. The questions and next button had a very horizontal motion so their eyes kept going back and forth, never venturing around to see the blinking video buttons let alone the large 3D glasses being built in the bottom right of the screen. It was simply amazing. They were on a mission and they didn't want to be distracted from finished the quiz.

Therefore, instead of a few last minute tweaks, we faced a full site redesign 2 weeks before launch. Brian came up with some fantastic improvements to the design (which is what you currently see on the tool). We embraced the horizontal eye movement that users were using and moved the glasses from the bottom right and placed it between the question and the next button. Their eyes had to move over the glasses to click on the next button. If they didn't see it then... god help them. The callouts for the videos were also beefed up. They were placed in the same region as the glasses and we used bright yellow color as well as some basic motion to catch the user's eye.

Had we not taken the time for the focus group we never would have realize that our design was seriously flawed and I highly doubt we would have had the same numbers in the case study mentioned above. To me, this focus group was the turning point in the project. One of the keys that made it a success. It was definitely well worth the time and effort, no matter how painful it was initially.

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