What We Can All Learn From Steve Jobs

By Jackie Lorch, VP, Global Knowledge Management

We recently asked research participants—both members of a research panel and those not on a panel—what they wanted from a research-taking experience.

A “fun” experience was way down the list at number six. Even when we encourage people with our offers to take a “fun survey” we don’t fool them into thinking that 80 questions about their cell phone plan is going to be anything close to fun. We should probably stop kidding ourselves and them.

The number one thing respondents said they were looking for? They want a survey that’s easy to complete.

The news trucks were lined up outside the Apple store in my hometown of New Haven, Connecticut this morning, getting ready for a day of tributes and remembrances.

SSI’s founder Tom Danbury was a passionate Apple fan. Just as President Hoover’s wish for Americans in the 1920s was that there should be “a chicken in every pot,” Tom Danbury’s wish for SSI in the 1980s was that there should be a Mac on every desk. What he loved about Macs, of course, as we all did, was how easy they were to use, and how elegant they were. To use Steve Jobs’ own word when describing the iPhone, when the user experience is designed right, the user feels like they’re “floating.” It seemed like magic but of course it wasn’t; it came from Jobs’ intense focus on every tiny detail of the user experience.

One of the many things we in the research profession can remember and learn from this famous research-skeptic, is to re-focus our efforts on making the user experience for the people taking our surveys much better than it is today.

Making every survey experience so easy and smooth that respondents feel like they’re floating through it?

How insanely great would that be.

Steve Jobs 1955 - 2011