Activity Design, Pacing and Length

With research, you’re constantly living by the mantra of using the right tool for the job in an effort to gain understanding on topics and people of interest. Although every research community is as idiosyncratic as the people it’s composed of, there are always some key considerations that arise surrounding design:

  1. Research Approach and Methodology
  2. Project Schedule and Timeline
  3. Community Socialization and Moderation

1. Research Approach and Methodology

Let’s explore some of the general things to think about when it comes to Activity design based on different methodologies and approaches:

 

Short Term Community:

These projects tend to be anywhere from three days to two weeks in length and their Activity releases tend to be staggered to keep things digestible

  • Projects with short durations may release things all up front
  • Designs tend to follow the funnel structure of general to specific

 

Long Term Community:

These projects are longer in duration and can span anywhere from a few months to a few years. They tend to employ a blue sky approach where participants have more choice and things are archived as needed

  • Activities tend to be more focused and shorter in length (regardless of sociability) to cater to mobile usage and accessibility

 

Surveys and feedback studies:

These projects have less Activities composed of more Tasks for a singular completion status and less need for active moderation

  • Usually private in nature or at least anonymized (e.g. employee feedback studies might employ some socialized exercises but do not reveal who’s who)

 

Ethnography designs:

Product usage diaries and journal exercises are usually shorter to encourage in-the-moment entries and multiple times

  • Shopping missions and scavenger hunts can be longer and should always have advance instructions (e.g. downloadable checklist) and guidance verbiage

 

Concept testing designs:

Sequences tend to have an exposure for feedback followed by a deep dive exploration or socialized component

  • Sequencing, randomization of grouped Tasks, and built-in socialization points become the focus for programming

 

2. Project Schedule and Timeline

The next thing to focus on once you have your methodological blueprint understood is the logistical side. In short, how long is your live data collection period and what’s the best way to utilize that time?

  • Shorter live phase: Keep things bite sized and focused to encourage completion and get some follow-up comments in
  • Longer live phase: Allows for more exercises that can be more immersive, create more complex flows tied to Segments or personas you’ve identified

 

In terms of scheduling Activities, the main question is usually whether it’s better to release everything at once or staggered over time? The answer to this question is sometimes less to do with the project design but rather the recruiting and scoping elements that are involved.

  • Rolling recruits and fully private setups: Makes more sense to provide some or even all the exercises up front (especially if combined with a shorter study duration)
  • Socialized setups: Makes more sense to structurally space things out to foster and allow for more socialization
  • Iterative setups: Makes sense to stagger releases to mitigate overwhelming participants upfront, allow things to build on each other and avoid participant fatigue

 

3. Community Socialization and Moderation

The third thing you want to consider in terms of your Activity pacing and design is the socialization element. Is your Recollective Study social in nature? How will you be interacting with the participants and their responses?

 

Socialized setups: Generally have more Activities with less Tasks

  • Participants primarily interact with each other’s responses when they first complete the Activity themselves so keep things focused and substantive
  • Think about data organization and the flow needed to reinforce socialization

 

Privatized setups: Most important considerations are the intended moderation approach and data organization

  • Breaking things up allows you to engage with participant responses in a more manageable fashion and lends itself topline analysis efforts while in-field

 

There’s rarely a single correct approach to length, pacing and sociability in terms of Activity design – it’s a process of evaluating the advantages and limitations of each approach and choosing appropriately. Whether you’re looking to best implement a finalized research guide or are still trying to write one, thinking about your project in the above respects should help to inform an optimal design for your Recollective Study!

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