The Secret Box: How to get market research participants to unveil their deepest secrets that help you have the best product
When you're surveying people, you're often trying to make your product the most personalized and relevant for your users. However, whether in a group or even one-on-one, often they don't feel comfortable telling you more personal or emotional things. You want to know what their biggest weakness is, so that you can provide a solution. You want to know the things they long for that they aren't broadcasting in their high-powered corporate lives. So this is a technique I use to get people to open up.
1. First tell them, "I'm going to be giving you a notecard to write something personal, and when you are ready, place it in this box. Your answer will not be shared with this group." Indicate the group of fellow survey participants in the room (not the market research team).
2. Ask them to take a moment, close their eyes and focus on their center. Ask them to take a deep breath.
3. Now tell them: "Please dive deep and into your center and ask yourself this question: What is your biggest weakness? When you are ready, write it down and place it in this box." Or ask whatever you wish to know: it could be asking them what they most struggled with in the last week, it could be about something they have really wanted lately.
4. Then add, "Please don't forget to write your participant number on it." The participant number would be a number assigned to each person, which should also be printed on their name tag. This allows for an additional amount of anonymity during group time that helps people share more. Afterwards, you would label the notecard with their real name for your internal records, as you would have obtained their consent to take notes on them individually.
5. Use the information on the individuals and the group to create your product.
Do you have a complex program that requires many tools to be intuitively arranged and easy to find? One method to find out how your users will look for these tools is to do the card sort.
Another reason it’s a great idea to run user research tests is that your application may be used in a wide variety of ways by your users. For example, some users might have 20 other applications open at the same time. And some users may only be using it for one thing that needs to be designed better.
These users are using the app in dramatically different ways.
(Image from: https://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2016/04/designing-complex-products/)
Additionally, when running user experience tests, you can find our what’s hard to use or unclear about your design. Clarity is king.
Despite popular opinion, substituting images for text can often alienate potential customers who can’t figure out what you mean quickly enough. So instead of this:
Use something like Microsoft Office does, a combination of pictures and text:
Alternately, for the tail of users that desire only visual icons, you can also study how quickly new users pick up on your symbolic images and how motivated they are to do so.
Today’s software complexity is growing, and with that comes a great need to manage interactions in a clear and engaging way.