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Camera...Action! 7 Impactful Ways to Leverage dscout's Video Question

Video prompts are more than just open-end question replacements. Here's how to leverage video to unearth insights you'd miss via any other modality. 

Words by dscout's CXR Team, visuals by Jarred Kolar

Arguably the most impactful feature of the dscout platform, video prompts can feel nebulous when actually creating them.

Selfie vs. outward facing camera? A long exposition or a quick tour? Does it "replace" an open-end or go after one?

Our Customer Experience and Research (CXR) team consults on best practices for video prompts (and the wider dscout platform) most days, and are the source for innovative approaches. We collected a few of their favorite video question ideas to help make your next mission design smoother.

Each use case contains a short description, what tools it works best with, and an example.

Co-creative needs inventory

By Dendra Abdinoor

Sometimes a customer wants to conduct generative research, to inform a new product that is still in development. Often product design or engineers are the stakeholders and they need to see and hear some creative use cases of a thing that—again—is not yet available. In these instances, the video prompt really stokes the imagination and can offer context around other important inputs, like how a scout might say something, or where they are when they'd take an action.

Say I wanted to create an app to support a smart speaker, but the app isn't available...yet. We could use Diary or Express to create a research activity—anchored by a video prompt—where scouts are walked through co-creating the app with a series of questions. Then, scouts will demonstrate a specific moment when they'd use such an app, and why. Drill in or keep it higher-level depending on your needs.

For example:

In a 1-2 minute video, describe what you would name this app based on what it does and the voice assistant functionality. We want to hear you test it out!

  • First, pick your favorite voice assistant (Google/Siri/Alexa)
  • Then, choose a media item (audiobook, song, podcast, tv show, movie, image, or video)
  • Lastly, start recording! In the video, start by saying OUT LOUD: "Hey [VOICE ASSISTANT], add this [MEDIA ITEM] to my [NAME] app!"
  • Be sure to tell us why you named your app the way you did.

This is fun for both the scouts and your design teams. Participants get to challenge themselves and showcase use cases that are relevant to them, and your team hears how they would want such actions executed, in the contexts and environments where they'd happen. The saying out loud instruction works really well with our video editor.

Listen and learn

By Lewis White

Sometimes, a researcher knows what actions or behaviors are taking place re: a product or experience, but isn't as clear with the setup, steps, or any hitches during the action. A video prompt can give scouts the space and time to pull apart and take a researcher backstage. I like to frame it as a "teach me how you..." question, because the scouts really have agency and are treated like the experience experts they are. I also like to frame it as "how would you teach a friend" because that also elicits a step-by-step nature.

The step-by-step organization makes this question work well in Diary or Express, where folks can tackle multiple actions if that's relevant for your product. Here are two examples:

  • In a 2 minute video, pretend that you are onboarding me to take over your job as the manager of a social media account.
    • What do I need to know before getting started?
  • In a 2 minute video, pretend you are teaching someone how to cook your favorite meal. Walk them through the steps, highlighting the key moments in your process.

In each of these examples, there might be multiple steps, and Diary is a perfect fit for that: Each moment is a step in their process, whether it's using an app or walking through their day. The video takes you the researcher to the site of the action, and lets you hear a user describe it in their terms. Tagging steps can create a media-rich journey map.

Your "desk"

By Katie Masciopinto

As many of us have transitioned to living more of our lives at-home, some of my customers are interested to see how task-focused spaces are being organized and maintained. A video prompt can be useful as a tour of a space, whether that's a single video of an entire "workspace" or several videos detailing the sections, parts, or components that comprise a space.

This works well in Diary, Express, or even Recruit. Some clients want to ensure a scout has a particular desk, office, or home item, and asking for a tour is a subtle way to confirm that a person 1) Has it and 2) Offers context on the ways it's being used/stored in-practice. It's also a very flexible prompt and can match any number of needs. Maybe you don't want to use the term "workspace" and would rather anchor a moment to a feeling, like "being productive." Simply modify the prompt's wording and you might learn not only the spaces, but the items that make for a productive moment.

  • In a 1-2 minute video, show us what your "desk" looks like. Why did you choose to work from this place today, and how are you feeling about today’s workspace? Whether you’re working from the couch, a coffee shop, or your home or work office -- we want to see it!”
  • In a 1-2 minute video, show us 3 places where you feel productive. What about that space or place helps give you that feeling? What objects are involved in that productivity?

Again, the tour is a very flexible way to capture more detail about what a place looks like, how it's serving a scout, and what feelings are elicited. In the first example, the prompt allows for a moving desk, which might happen as care or life interrupts. That nuance is key to our clients. To ease the analysis I usually follow-up a video prompt with a closed-ended question to have the scouts "tag" the data themselves; this might ask about digital tools, specific products being used, or the frequency of the usage. Anything to help speed up mining and sifting.

Retail audit

By Natalie Harris

Video prompts help our clients get a fuller picture of their retail presence, both inside and outside the stores. This is helpful in capturing motivational and attentional information, such as why a scout notices a store and what goes into their decision to enter it (or not). This is certainly important in COVID times, but was a recurring question among my clients pre-pandemic, too. Uncovering the impressions a shopper has to signage, design, and physical factors like layout or location are critical to creating a welcoming environment.

Depending on your needs, you may only want to learn what scouts think of a store's exterior. We sometime point or direct a scout to a specific store, but we can also keep it open and let the scout show stores that caught their eye and attention, and use a video to show us what about the store did that, as with this example:

  • In a 60-second video, show us the storefront that you stopped at. Were you planning to shop at this store already? If not, what caught your eye?

We didn't want to be prescriptive and ask about specific features. We'll tag for that afterward. This way, the organic and natural perceptions of the shopper lead the insights. It's also a great gut-check for marketing, brand, and retail teams to see how their stores are looking as they open back up to in-person shoppers. We like to use this prompt in both Diary (for multiple moments) and Express (for single ones) missions, but it could work in Recruit if you're looking for scouts who notice your store specifically (it might help with competitive intel, too!).

Validate and visualize

By Lindsey Kite

When writing a screener on dscout, sometimes you need to have scouts prove that they have a device in their home, and that they know how to do a specific action or task with said device. In this prompt, we will ask scouts to show us their smart speaker, and how they use it to help manage their shopping lists. With this approach, you’ll be able to see the smart speaker in the video, and how scouts accomplish this type of task.

As you go through applications, you’ll be able to validate that the scout has the device you're studying, and you’ll be able to gauge their level of expertise and familiarity with the device. You’ll want to use this type of video question when you are looking to prove that scouts own a piece of technology, or any item for that matter. Having scouts capture their interactions with a device on camera will help you understand the where, how and why. You’ll see where the device naturally lives, how they interact with the device, and an example of why they might do that type of task or activity.

You could also use this type of video in a diary or express mission! If you’re looking to receive a large quantity of entries where scouts show you a particular task or action with a device they have in their home, you could use this video question in an Express Mission. In a Diary Mission, you could ask scouts to show you multiple moments of them doing a task with their device over time. Here's an example of how we might write this for a screener:

  • In a 1 minute video, show us how you use your smart speaker to create or edit your shopping list. Make sure you show us the device in your video. Once you’re done creating or editing your shopping list, share with us the situations where you typically use your smart speaker to create or modify your shopping lists instead of other methods (e.g. an app, pen and paper, etc.).

When reviewing applications, we’d recommend that you use our in-platform filters to narrow down the applications to your ideal set of scouts. For example: If you’re looking for folks who use their smart speakers at least once a day, you could filter by a question you asked to gauge their usage, and select once a day or higher. Once you’ve done that, review the videos, and use the tagging system to rate scouts based on expertise and familiarity. You can then sort applications by the tags you’ve created to get a mix of scouts who are really familiar with using their smart speaker with this type of task, and those who are newer or less experienced with this activity.

Photo album share

By Zoe Tweed

Instead of capturing an entire process or trip in a 2-minute video, you can ask scouts to capture various steps/content within a larger trip or process in a series of photos, and then have them walk you through each image in a 2-minute screen recording, showing the photos they've taken on their smartphone all at once (think family photo sharing). This offers scouts more time to naturally curate a process or journey, and then share everything together with you and add context to what and why. Did I mention they can pinch and zoom?

Here's are a few examples of how we've programmed this question:

  • Record your daily commute to work on public transit, from start to finish. As you do, take photos of the things/spaces you interact with that show us the highs and lows to this journey. Where do things run smoothly? What jams you up? Take pictures of everything of note and then walk us through them in the following video question.
  • Document your day at Disneyland! What rides and attractions did you explore? Where did you eat?
  • Show us the process of washing your dog in a series of photos. We’re interested in everything from start to finish: where you do it, the tools/products you use, any hacks you use to keep your furry friend occupied, etc!

Because the scout is sharing so much info in a single moment, you can learn about multiple or different kinds of trips in the same project. Maybe you want to compare weekday vs. weekend commutes, or the wakeup routines on PTO vs work days, etc. With this, you're able to compare and contrast whole journeys or processes in a single study, and offer agency and independence to the scout to let the moments unfold naturally. Alternatively, you could gain context around a process or journey in other missions parts, like asking to identify experiences that really help or hinder the process and then ideate on a solution.

Analysis is jam-packed with potential, too. Tag the videos for thematic sentiments. Tag for tools/places/things. Grab screenshots of each image still for presentation assets. Use the videos to craft archetype user process maps. All this from a single 2-minute video prompt!

The Bob Ross

By Karen Eisenhauer

My favorite video prompt is more about showing and telling with art. Ask scouts to draw a diagram or picture of an abstract concept in their lives - a workflow, a family or professional organization, their schedule, an ecosystem of products, or anything else. Have them upload a clear picture as a photo prompt. Then, use a long video (2 minutes) to have them walk through and explain all the elements of their picture, or to deep dive into a part of the picture that wouldn’t be immediately obvious to you.

This kind of prompt definitely lives best in Diary missions. First off, it’s a big lift for scouts, since it requires materials, time, and creative energy. The 2 minute video they produce will represent much more than 2 minutes of work. Being in a Diary mission (with a well-proportioned reward) will ensure the buy-in required for them to make a thoughtful output.

A prompt like this at the beginning of a moments-based diary mission can also give you a good jumping off point to begin thinking about the journey, ecosystem, or other abstract concept you are exploring. It may provide a useful framework for looking at the rest of your data! If major points of interest float to the top through this exercise, you can even tack on an additional part at the end of the mission to follow up in an agile way.

Alternatively, you can ask this kind of question after they submit moments about a particular journey, and ask them to visualize and sum their own moments up for you! Here are two examples of this in-action. Each example uses a two-question sequence: the first introduces the drawing idea and offers a photo question for the drawing, while the second is the video prompt for the tour or show-and-tell.

  • AQ1: We want to know how a project happens in your workplace. Find a pen and paper (or your favorite digital tool) and to the best of your ability, make a list or diagram of all the steps a project goes through from start to finish. Then, in a different color, highlight the most painful parts of the process. Upload your finished picture here!
  • AQ2: In a 2-minute video, walk us through all of the pain points that you highlighted in the process. What about these points is particularly painful?
  • BQ1: Think about the process you go through when you make a big purchase. Get a pen and paper, and sketch out a timeline of your process. Include in this process your mood at each step. Upload it here!
  • BQ2: In a 2 minute video, walk us through your timeline. In particular, walk us through the moods that you noted, and elaborate on why you put that mood together with the point in the story.

2-minute videos can be overwhelming in large numbers. Instead of wading through all of them, start with the pictures. I personally like to print them out and physically group them, but you can also use tags or scout groups in the dscout platform.

Once you have an idea of what is standing out to you, then you can use the scout videos for deep dives into those points of interest.

Pictures paired with explanatory videos can also be great artifacts to share out to stakeholders. If a scout happens to sum up a common experience eloquently, then why not let them explain your insight directly to your audience?

Also, remember that this is self-report data. It can be a great jumping off point, but if possible, you should pair it with moments or some other kind of behavioral data!

Ben is the product evangelist at dscout, where he spreads the “good news” of contextual research, helps customers understand how to get the most from dscout, and impersonates everyone in the office. He has a doctorate in communication studies from Arizona State University, studying “nonverbal courtship signals”, a.k.a. flirting. No, he doesn’t have dating advice for you.

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