Creative Development 1400

4 Tips for crafting colourful online qual reports

Tom Woodnutt

Tom Woodnutt

Feeling Mutual

Tom Woodnutt is Founder of Feeling Mutual, the agile online and mobile qualitative research specialists. He helps clients and agencies run global studies and offers training in the space. Tom has been a Digital Skills trainer for the Association of Qualitative Researchers (AQR) and is a regular speaker at industry conferences, including the MRS, MRMW and IleX.

Clients want research that paints vivid pictures of their customers. But when it comes to writing debriefs, time or budgetary pressures force many qualitative researchers to paraphrase what people have said rather than including verbatim quotes. While this may still capture the main points people made, the reports lose some of their colour. 

Online qual gives you instant transcripts. In today’s fast-paced world, getting instant access to what people say and being able to quote them verbatim is of great value. It adds layers of colour and credibility to your work. When you combine verbatim transcripts with videos and other participant artefacts, you can create a highly impactful piece of work. Here are four tips to help you add colour to your online qual reports.

1. Design questions to draw out emotional disclosures 

The more passionately someone reveals how they feel, the more powerful the insight tends to be. Work back from this idea to design questions and tasks which inspire more emotional responses. Ask yourself when people will feel most strongly about the subject and how you can access that raw emotion as it unfolds? For example, in a customer journey study, ask for video feedback right after someone buys the item in question or as they open the box containing the item at home.

2. Invite people to draw how they feel

Lady Bird Johnson said, 

"Art is the window to man’s soul. Without it, he would never be able to see beyond his immediate world; nor could the world see the man within."

She probably would have approved of ‘psycho-drawings’, a projective technique in which people draw how they feel. If you use this technique, try to get people to focus on their feelings about a particular subject before asking them to draw. For example, ask how they feel when they’re in the mood for a perfect bubble bath? You’ll be amazed at the illustrative responses you get, regardless of the participants’ artistic skills. 

3. Ask people to repeat quotes to the camera

I’ve said before that video can be far more effective than text-only quotes. This technique quickly gets you the best video without compromising validity. Just pick out the best quotes from people’s text-based answers and ask them to record a mobile video paraphrasing their quote. You’ll end up with valuable visual records of the most useful responses, and you’ll have less footage to go through.

4. Encourage people to take photos of their worlds

The ways in which people shape their home environments say a lot about how they see themselves and who they want to be. Ask them to take photos of the objects around them that say something about who they are or to capture images of everyday things (anything from their fridge to their car). When you do a bit of probing to determine why they chose certain objects, you’ll be surprised at what you learn.

People love to express themselves. By following these four tips to give your participants a platform to be creative, you’ll be able to create compelling visuals for your debriefs.

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