Mobile Agnostic Qual Research or Response Research

Posted by Stephen Cribbett Tuesday, October 29, 2013 10:16

The lightning fast changes and developments in smartphones, tablets and phablets (phone-tablets) is blurring the boundaries between mobile and online research. Mobile Agnostic Research and Responsive Research Design present many challenges for researchers, both qual and quant.

digital tablet


The lightning fast changes and developments in smartphones, tablets and phablets (phone-tablets) is blurring the boundaries between mobile and online research. Mobile Agnostic Research, as it’s become know, is happening now and it’s growing fast. It gives participants the ability to chose whether they take part in the online qual discussions and activities (and quant) via their desktop, mobile, phablet or tablet. According to Ray Poynter, it accounts for as much as 30% of all data collected right now. Dub’s own data suggests that as many as 26% of data collected on our qual software, IdeaStream, is being collected this way. So you see, it’s not something to be ignored.

Mobile Agnostic Research provides greater choice and convenience for participants, as well as being a more natural fit with the way they communicate in their everyday lives – on different devices at different times of the day. But there are also big benefits to researchers that I want to focus on in this post, such as enabling them to reach the largest mobile user demographic possible.


Already time poor and confused?

Are you typical of the modern day qualitative researcher, with lots of new methods to grapple with (netnography, behavioural economics, facial recognition and so on) and an even bigger array of tools and software to help you deliver them (communities, text analytics, social media listening tools etc.)? It’s overwhelming right. Have you only just got your head around online qual and built a relationship with a prefered platform, only to have your head turned again by mobile qual tech vendors. I’ll bet the mobile qual that’s turning your head doesn’t integrate with your prefered bulletin board or community software neither, meaning you’ll have to work with two platforms now instead of one! There’s goes your lunch hour!

Online qual research has, in the last year or so, grown as mobile data collection has increased. But it has created confusion among researchers as they try to work out  whether ‘mobile apps’ or ‘mobile web’ is the way to go. Sure, apps let consumers work off-line, but right now consumers are experiencing app overload. Mobile web is massively on the rise making mobile web much more accessible globally.


Create Once Publish Everywhere (COPE)

Mobile Agnostic Research doesn’t just hold benefits for participants, it means that qual researchers can build and manage their entire online qual study or insight community on just one software solution. Because this solution is fully optimised for the mobile web, researchers need only setup their project, discussions and activities once, on one platform, and see it published across mobile, desktop, tablet and phablet at the same time. No need for costly technical integration. No need to set up two separate projects on un-integrated desktop and mobile platforms. Create once, publish everywhere, or COPE. It’s like the hub and spoke model. Simple, quick, effective.


Responsive research design

From a technology standpoint, HTML 5 is what is powering these changes and making online research software compatible with a range of mobile devices and operating systems. Create Once, Publish Everywhere (COPE) is a cross-platform approach that automatically adapts your research to any device or operating system (OS). It enables you to:

  • Save time and reduce costs in developing and testing your research design on multiple devices
  • Automatically deliver a consistent app experience to participants

Added benefits include:

  • Server-side technology for faster display times (ok, that’s a very techy one I admit!)
  • Available on a software-as-a-service basis

It’s similar to what web designers call ‘responsive design’ which optimises the users experience regardless of the device they are using. Taking this approach, I have coined the term Response Research Design to capture a new approach to research design that researchers must learn. What it points to is the future whereby participants are going to be the ones defining the research methodology and not researchers. Within insight communities, people will pick and choice how they respond, what they respond to and what device they use to share their data. Without the choice, they will simply remove themselves and become just ‘lurkers’

Mobile Agnostic Research and Responsive Research Design present many challenges for researchers, qual and quant. I’ve outlined just a few, i’d love to hear if you feel there are more to add.

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One Response to “Mobile Agnostic Qual Research or Response Research”

  1. Steve August says:

    November 11th, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    This is a good encapsulation of some of the benefits of responsive design and it speaks to one important aspect of mobile qual and mobile research in general – accommodating as many devices as possible. Also agree that mobile and web should be integrated within a platform and create a cross platform experiences that makes sense to participants. However, there is a tension between HTML/connected responsive design and the appetite for features such as geo-location, being able to function offline, and being able to do things like compress video so it can be uploaded. These are things apps can do vs connected responsive web views. For example, on one hand HTML/connected make it easier for a variety of devices/people to do in store activities – but if cell signal is spotty in the store, they won’t be able to actually complete the exercises. As always, there are tradeoffs with technology, all dependent on the objectives of a particular initiative.

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