The Benefits of Iterative Research: A Case Study

Iterative research can take place in many forms, and for many reasons.

For example, at the beginning of new project development, many clients undergo discovery research to learn about their audiences, competitive and industry climate prior to creating (and hopefully researching) new project concepts.

As another example, desktop versus mobile-based live website usability testing can help provide an understanding of user expectations and gap analysis, so companies can prioritize future development efforts.

The following case study was based upon our experience in working with a Fortune 100 retailer who had a goal of improving their website presence and increasing conversion.

Phase I: Lab-Based Usability Testing

  • Goals: The initial case for change was based upon the client’s prior research and analytics. They gained valuable insight relating to the importance of content during decision-making, which served as a basis for their refined website concepts.
  • Methodology: Lab-based usability testing provided the opportunity for deep qualitative user input. We watched what users noticed (and didn’t) relating to the new concepts, and dug into the reasons why.
    The client team (consisting of research, user experience, information architecture and design) were actively involved in not only observing all sessions, but debriefing key learning together and brainstorming opportunities for improvement.
  • Results: Iterative design changes were implemented and tested throughout the research process... with success. In collaboration with R&D; Insight, recommendations were made regarding ideas for next steps, including design and labeling refinements, and future research to confirm changes.

Phase II: Online Usability / Card Sort

  • Goals: As a next step, we recommended building upon prior qualitative research by implementing initial learning and validating refined concepts among a larger number of geographically diverse audiences, for more confidence in findings.
  • Methodology: An online study was conducted among several hundreds of participants meeting the client’s target audience criteria. The study combined an online card sort, usability questions relating to different refined concepts, as well as attitudinal and perceptual questions relating to concept preference, and reasons why.
  • Results: The client obtained key learning about which components of what concept resonated with their audiences. This gave them the go-forward direction for a final set of iterations prior to A/B testing and live site rollout.

This case study highlights one situation relating to iterative research. What are your experiences?