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Resources: UPA 2006 Idea Markets

How Do You Combine Usability and Market Research?


Activator: Joe Bugental, Independent Consultant

Thought Starter Questions

  1. How do you combine usability and market research?
  2. How do you get the two departments to talk to each other?
  3. What are some benefits?
  4. What are some pitfalls?

Executive Summary

Eight to ten usability professionals contributed to the discussion over 45 minutes. The flip charts, which were keyed to the questions, have been transcribed under Discussion Details.

Discussion Details

1. HOW DO YOU COMBINE USABILITY AND MARKET RESEARCH?

  • Do away with "usability," i.e. integrate it into marketing research.
  • Talk to Marketing about importance of individual user data as instances
    (maybe even substantiation) of socio-demographic data.

    [Implicit in these is Marketing's generally "senior" visibility in the organization.]

2. HOW DO YOU GET THE TWO DEPARTMENTS TO TALK TO EACH OTHER?

  • Write research (both kinds) into strategic plan [for product/project].
  • Usability professional needs to be involved at strategy level.
  • Vertical market segments = user research.
  • Websites generally encourage more marketing-UCD collaboration.
  • Client asks for both.
  • "User Experience" organization requires cross-functional teams.
  • Say to Marketing: "I'm doing your job; why aren't you involved?"
  • Say to Marketing: "What info do you have that I can use?"
  • Ask Marketing specific questions about the info they have.
  • Formal reviews in the product lifecycle that combine ALL the questions in checklist form.
  • Use marketing buzz words, e.g. "global." Learn the language.
  • Use influence to make the business structure require crossover.
  • "User research" (not usability) can = market research.
  • Get Marketing to observe usability tests.
  • Enter into formal agreements ("partnerships") to share the information, the budget, and the processes.

3. WHAT ARE SOME BENEFITS?

  • "User Experience" organization requires cross-functional teams.
  • Bringing the two together can bridge gaps from assumptions made by either alone.
  • Competitive testing and analysis provides advantages to both teams.
  • Sharing data saves researchers' time and the research dollars available.
  • Saving lots of money.
  • Nobody has to be laid off.
  • Broader skill sets for staff. 

4. WHAT ARE SOME PITFALLS?

  • After the combination, there's some short-term quality erosion in research results.
  • Time constraints are multiplied [doing more with less].


Conclusions

Benefits for employer, usability practitioner, and ultimately users outweigh the pitfalls.



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