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Bake Express into your Product Roadmap

Use quick-turn, mixed-data feedback to jumpstart (and align) your product development process.

Words by Elyse Tuennerman, Visuals by Jarred Kolar

Today’s special: dscout Express

Express missions—because of their flexibility, ease of use, and speed to insight—are one of the most versatile “dishes” in the dscout insights cookbook.

Small-but-mighty with a maximum of 20 questions—including the option of media prompts—Express missions can (and should!) be utilized whenever you are looking for quick insights from the dscout community at large.

With product roadmaps in particular, I tend to think of Express missions as a research “appetizer” or “side dish.” Although tasty all on their own, they really shine when served in tandem with a complementary Diary and/or Live mission.

With data in as few as 24 hours, they're easier to prep and serve, giving you and your team contextual data for larger projects.

Example use-cases:

  • Could your stakeholder presentation benefit from a highlight reel of five emotive and articulate video testimonials from users?
  • Could a collection of 100 photos of scouts’ workstations (or whatever the environmental stimulus of interest may be) jump-start your product brainstorming session?
  • Could you use a word cloud of the emotions that scouts report feeling about their favorite social media platform to build out your in-depth interview guide?

In all of these cases, Express missions are the perfect way to collect bite-sized qualitative data. They're flexible enough to be used as early-stage generative/exploratory research, (particularly when seeking photo and/or video data) or as evaluative research on specific topics (e.g. competitive analysis of specific features, comparing product design options).

This recipe will outline a foundational design that can inform a range of product roadmap types across a variety of industries. Whether it’s a physical or digital product, something that's in the wild or still in development, Express can usually supply the scrappy insights to get started, clarify the direction, or support a decision.

Steps to this recipe

Step 1: Solidify your recruitment criteria

A primary consideration for any Express mission should be recruitment criteria. Remember, unlike in dscout Recruit, you won’t be hand-picking your Express participants. Rather, you’ll rely on features like knockout logic, must-select logic, balance and quota controls, and dscout’s machine learning quality check algorithm to ensure that you get the right group of scouts.

Your eligibility questions will count towards the 20-question limit in Express. This means that projects with extra-complex eligibility requirements—or that require manual analysis of open-ended responses to determine eligibility—are a better fit for another dscout tool.

Step 1b: Prepare any concepts or prototypes

Express missions can be a great way to test out a concept or run a prototype by a large group of scouts. dscout’s question stimuli feature allows you to upload up to five images that scouts will see alongside a given question.

Static stim—like logos or value props—can be attached to any question in Express. If you have a dynamic prototype, having the URL ready will help designing go smoothly. Links can be attached to screen recording questions. For example, if you'd like scouts to play around with a mobile prototype and then respond to questions about it.

The stars of this recipe are the media prompts, including selfie videos, screen recordings, and even photos. Paired with a prototype URL or even a static stimulus image, you can rapidly generate, iterate, or evaluate a host of product-related content within a single Express mission.

Elyse Tuennerman
Lead Research Advisor, dscout

Step 2: Determine how many Express missions you want to run in parallel

Depending on your research goals you may want to launch a single Express mission, or run multiple Express missions at the same time.

For example, if you are using Express to do preliminary A/B testing on two different product concepts, you can launch a separate mission for each stimulus image. If you run multiple Express missions within the same project, toggling on the “Scout Activity” filter under the Participants tab will prevent any individual scout from completing more than one of the missions.

Keep in mind that you can always run an additional Express mission later on! However, data across multiple missions cannot be analyzed together within the dscout platform, so create your research plan accordingly.

Express missions are a great tool for democratization. If you're looking to empower others at your organization to launch research, consider developing a standardized set of Express “template questions” for others to use.

For example, your team might benefit from a go-to “comparative product testing” Express mission design. Each time a designer has a new prototype to test, they can simply make a copy of the mission, replace the stimuli file with the new prototype, and submit it for review by a dscout Research Advisor (if applicable)!

Step 3: Build out your Express mission(s) in the dscout platform

It’s time to start your mise en place! To make the most of your Express mission, I’d recommend including some of the following question types:

“3 adjectives”/word cloud questions

Once your Express mission data is rolling in, you’ll have access to the dscout Open-Ended Responses view. This view includes an auto-generated word cloud/bubble chart, which I always try to take advantage of! A question like, “What 3 adjectives best describe how you feel about this topic?” can be a good thought-starter for scouts, and is an easy way to add depth to your project deliverables.

Closed-ended questions for filtering

A little bit of time spent planning out closed-ended questions can result in a lot of time saved during analysis. Think through any segments or sentiments that you might want to filter by later on, and add in a closed-ended question for each of them. I love to add closed-ended follow-up questions after a video question; it leaves room for scouts to share their unfiltered thoughts, while significantly reducing the time you’ll need to spend applying thematic tags to the data.

A video and/or photo question

Media questions are dscout’s “bread and butter,” and nearly every Express mission I write includes one. An emotive video highlight reel or in-context photo collection can add value to nearly every research deliverable.

Step 4: [When applicable] Submit for Research Advisor review

Just like with dscout Recruit, your Express mission will be reviewed by a member of dscout’s Research Advisor team prior to launch. This will ensure that everything is set up the way you intended it—our team is here to catch skip logic errors, make suggestions regarding how best to phrase questions to scouts, and how to maintain the flow of your question order.

Once you and your Research Advisor are aligned on the design and you give the final sign-off, the dscout team will launch your Express mission to our scout panel!

Step 5: Watch the data roll in

You will be able to see your data roll in as it happens. All submissions will be reviewed by dscout’s machine learning quality check algorithm, and eligible responses that pass this quality check will show up in your entry view.

You can start reviewing and analyzing your data as soon as it comes in! Scouts will automatically be paid, and the mission will automatically close once you hit your desired number of entries.

BONUS Step: Consult your dscout team!

Remember, if you have a dscout subscription, your dscout Research Advisor team is here to help, no matter what stage your research project is in! If you’re not sure whether Express is the right fit for your upcoming study, or you need some guidance on how best to turn your research brief into an Express mission, don’t hesitate to reach out.

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