What We’re Reading This Week: Week of November 16, 2015

By the Editors

This week, we’re reading an article that helps find the line between survey length and quality from GreenBook Blog, a post from Georgetown University about data skepticism and trustworthiness and an article from Momentology detailing the major differences between user research and market research.

A Debate Between Survey Length and Data Quality, Greenbook Blog

Deciding between quantity and quality is always tough. Quality and length can often seem like they are working against each other. With the number of mobile users increasing every day, it’s important for market researchers to take the time to understand that mobile-first solutions actually might be better. As Zontziry Johnson writes on the GreenBook Blog, it’s usually better to start your survey focusing on mobile first, instead of the “adjust-it-for-mobile approach.” That way, you can tailor your questions to a more narrow scope, and you won’t have to worry about trimming a 20-minute survey down so it’s on-the-go friendly. One of the best ways to create a mobile-first survey is to focus on data needs, not wants. While there are plenty of questions you might want to ask, they might not be necessary for your survey. However, there is a compromise in length—instead of choosing short vs. long, a medium length can work also. That survey might not illicit the same number of responses, but the quality of those responses will inevitably increase as well. It’s a fine line, but it’s one that market researchers should pay close attention to.

Data Skepticism, Georgetown University

As Robert Groves from Georgetown University notes, skepticism is the ideal way to get the best data. Data you initially find shouldn’t be immune to criticism—the best analysts actually search for problems and weaknesses. Since researchers often use data from other resources, it’s not always possible for them to control the quality of data. Instead of immediately trusting the data they receive, the “wise” data analysts actually dig for more—what relationships, if any, does the data show? Does the correlation fade over time, or is it constant? What is excluded from the data set? Asking questions like these can not only show what might be wrong, but can also lead to more interesting and unforeseen conclusions. At the end of the day, Groves writes, harshly evaluating data can only be of benefit. Finding problems that don’t stand out will just improve the quality, thus leading to better information.

Market Research is NOT User Research, Momentology

These days, lots of companies rely on great UX design to improve customer satisfaction. However, in order to make those all-important UX designs, companies rely on user research and market research. This article from Momentology makes it very clear—there’s a big difference between the two. On one hand, market research analyzes data and focuses on brand awareness, marketing and ultimately, important pricing and company-wide decisions. User research, on the other hand, primarily studies customer behavior. It’s important to understand the user’s needs and expectations, which is also an important aspect of user research. UX design echoes this—if a company focuses on market research over user research, generally, it’ll follow similar designs as the rest of that market. However, the more user-friendly and innovative the UX is, it was likely based on actual user feedback and research. Ultimately, the two forms of research garner vastly different results, and should be used in different scenarios.