Some places are interesting to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there. My hometown in northwest Iowa, for example.
Likewise, last week’s focus groups were a fascinating experience, but I would not want to do that for a living. Still, we gathered some terrific qualitative information, and I’m glad we did it.
These were good enough, DIY focus groups. Not scientific. Not representative of the Corridor population as a whole. We talked to two dozen people over four nights in casual, jobs-to-be-done conversations. Participants were chosen by lifestyle segment and geographic area: Lunchbucket Families, Wired Go-Getters and Media Sophisticates from Cedar Rapids-Marion-Hiawatha-Robins-Toddville and Iowa City-Coralville-North Liberty. (The lifestyle segments were defined by MORI, the company that does our biennial, scientific, random-sampling readership studies. It was convenient to use MORI’s categories.)
Most participants were expecting us to shop a product to them, but once we explained the nature of JTBD research (what are you trying to do? what gets in the way of that? what would help?), they understood and enthusiastically participated. In fact, many asked to stay in touch and offered their services for user testing.
The sessions were recorded, and the audio files are undergoing transcribing now. I hope to have transcripts by Monday. The data needs digesting and sifting, of course, for patterns, anomalies, etc., and I’ll follow-up here with more info once that’s done.
A few things stood out: Folks want information, and the getting of information should be convenient. They want a customized interface that can accommodate their changing needs and lets them drill deep if they want to. The impact of comfort zones and phases of life on defining needs should not be underestimated, but those things shouldn’t pigeonhole a user.
And most heartening for Content Ninja: They want to connect with folks in their community over information that meets a shared need.
One of the most edifying effects of the focus groups was to witness the organic connections being made around the table. One person would identify a need for a certain type of information. Someone else at the table had an answer for that and shared it on the spot.
If we’re to have any hope of having an intelligent community flourishing around our content, we must foster those kinds of connections at every turn for the user.