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Test. Rinse. Repeat.

How to bring an iterative approach to your qualitative research projects.

Words by Cam Balzer, Visuals by Delaney Gibbons

MVP. Iterative design. Agile. These are familiar concepts to many researchers who work with online product teams. But it’s been a hard concept to apply to the design of qualitative or ethnographic research itself. Usually, research is designed in the whole clothe, getting feedback from other researchers and finalizing before any fielding.

Now dscout allows you to bring iterative design to your mobile ethnography projects. Our brand new research building tools make it super easy to draft a mission, test, edit, test, edit, etc. so you can launch your project with confidence, knowing you’ll get high quality responses from your participants.

1. Draft your research right in dscout

Don’t even bother drafting on paper. Jump straight into dscout. Get a good solid draft in place. You don’t need to stress about getting it perfect. Just get all your ideas out in rough form.

2. Tweak to your heart’s content

Everything in your dscout missions is editable. Want to change a video question to a photo? Or switch a multi-select to a single-select? Just change the question attributes. Re-order the questions? Just drag-n-drop. Skip logic already defined? No worries… it’ll adjust when you move questions (or let you know if it needs fixing). Add or delete questions. No one puts Baby in the corner!

3. See how it will look to scouts

No need to leave the builder to see what scouts will see. The built-in preview screen shows what the questions will look like on the typical scout’s mobile device. Adjust for copy length so it’s easy to read. See how long your pick-lists are on-screen so you can make it easy on your participants.

4. Test as much as you'd like

Whenever you think you’ve got it close, give it a whirl. Kick off the test from the mission status bar. Add up to five users to your test. Colleagues are a good place to start. But if you’ve got access to some real world people, that perspective is hugely useful. Testers will get prompted to test the mission in the dscout app on their mobile devices. Your test will stay active until you close it or for up to five days. You’ll even get an email reminder the day before the test closes.

5. See what you’ve got

You can review test responses in your dscout mission, same as regular entries. View videos, review responses. See if you’re getting what you wanted.

6. Changes? Iterate

Return to step 2 if there’s anything to tweak. As many times as you like. With the same testers… or ideally with fresh real people, if you can spare the participants. Each time you close a test, the test entries are completely erased and you start fresh. (Keep that in mind if you’re using real respondents for testing.)

7. No Changes? Congratulations! Let’s launch

Whether testing takes a couple of hours or a few days, once you’re confident in your research design, launching a mission is as easy as starting a test. Click Launch, add your scouts and watch the moments start pouring in. Your mission will be free of test entries, ready for your analysis and meaning-making genius.

And here's a couple more pro-tips for involving colleagues in your iterative research design process:

  • For your engaged colleagues, invite them directly to your project in dscout. As viewers, they’ll be able to see the design of all the project’s missions (and screeners) as well as entries from testers. They’ll also see real responses when you launch. Or as collaborators, they’ll be able to help you build and edit the project directly in dscout, as well as manage scouts and analyze the project.

  • For less involved colleagues, or folks who are more comfortable working off docs, you can export your mission as a nicely formatted PDF or Word-compatible file to share with them, print and take a pen to paper. Also handy for hanging onto a copy of your research design for posterity.

  • For the adventurous, you can also preview draft missions right in the dscout mobile app. Open the app on your Android or iPhone and you’ll see your draft missions listed. You can go through the missions as a user to get the full experience. This works for any colleagues you've added to the project as well.

Flexibility and freedom in the research design process. It’s one more way dscout makes it easy for you to connect with real people’s experience in the moments that matter.

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