How we work
Each client engagement is aligned with the client's specific objectives. Our project proposals are usually fixed-time, fixed-price. Here are the phases you can expect in all projects with us: planning, framing, recruitment, fieldwork, analysis, and sharing of insights.
Working with your input, we develop a plan that takes into account your business challenges, strategic objectives, research questions, calendar constraints, and the dependencies of all stakeholders. We suggest a low-overhead communication plan to ensure key stakeholders can remain involved and aware of progress throughout the project.
At project inception, we identify with you a set of questions and research goals to frame the research and data-gathering — aligning them with your objectives. What areas of human experience do you want to explore, and how does this connect to your business challenge? What are your assumptions about how people use or will want to use your product or service? How do you plan to use the outcomes of the research? Whether you come to us with a clear set of research objectives or are still in the process of defining those objectives, we will design a research program that addresses your key questions and also leaves enough room for exploration.
Identifying and finding the right set of participants is key to the success of qualitative research. We define with you the recruiting parameters that fit your research goals: number and types of markets, specific demographics, user characteristics, number of participants. We can recruit using an existing segmentation model or will help you develop a set of criteria that reflects the audience you would like to target. We manage the recruiting process from start to finish, devoting thorough attention to participant selection.
We aim to select a perfect set of methods to get a holistic view of a given experience. Our fieldwork is grounded in contexts of use, and typically involves some combination of the following techniques: interviews, tours, observations, activity and process demonstrations, visual diaries, product and concept testing. Our fieldwork takes place in homes, in workplaces, in retail spaces, in public spaces, wherever the experience under study is unfolding. We use video and still photos to capture the data. Often we also ask participants to document their thoughts, feelings and activities in text and visual format. We welcome and encourage your close involvement in fieldwork, and we end this phase with a joint data review session.
Starting in parallel with fieldwork, we work through the data to give it meaning, to isolate significant clues and extract patterns of findings. In addition to understanding the “what” of the behaviors we've observed, we identify the why and the how. We look for motivations and influencers, positive and negative; we discover breakdowns, pain points, and strategies for coping with them; we pinpoint gaps in what people are achieving and what they want to achieve. We pay attention to "workarounds" —clues to unmet needs— as inspiration for innovation.
Our analysis takes place in two stages: In the first stage, researchers will sort the data into a first-level of organization that describes the activities observed, the interactions between people and products/services, and the patterns of thought that people use to make sense of it all. The second stage of analysis is interpretive; experienced researchers look for patterns, synthesize findings, identify unmet needs, draw implications, create conceptual models, and develop strategic insights. We welcome and encourage your involvement during analysis as well.
We bring you findings and conceptual models that capture the key components of an experience — and connect them with gritty business challenges. Rich observations and insights are shared in energetic workshops. You get tools to think with, to keep the insights alive in your organization. We remain available to answer questions after a project ends, even years later. The outcomes include both tactical and strategic directions. We help you find unique opportunities and innovative paths, and sometimes we warn about unprofitable trends or risky cultural shifts.