Rad… Rapid User Research: 400 responses, 10 interviews, 3 days, and $525

by Lindsey M.. Average Reading Time: about a minute.

Michael Margolis, UX Research Partner at Google Ventures wrote a lovely article recently about a recent project he worked on. His goal was seemingly simple: interview users of a new product and gather interesting and detailed data. This was all to be done within a few days. His 3-step strategy was to first look at product reviews, and existing relevant research from firms such as ForresterPewGartner, and Nielsen. Google Scholar was another source for academic research that was used (naturally). In this first step he gathered valuable information surrounding the industry trends, usage patterns, and other key data. All helpful things except what he was missing was actual product users’ detailed viewing habits. The good stuff. What Margolis really needed was some time-sensitive information, stat.

Along comes step two. Margolis explains this process as drafting a questionnaire/survey combination to weed out the participants that he did and did not want to interview on the phone. In addition to the standard demographic and product usage questions, he threw in some open-ended and multiple choice questions. After the questionnaire-survey was drafted, edited and ready to go, the recruiting and testing process began.

Margolis chose to advertise his survey on Craigslist as a “$50 usability interview” which received almost 400 responses within the first two days. With the preliminary survey questions answered, he was able to narrow down his sample size to ten interviewees. He completed 30-minute phone interviews for each participant and was able to gather valuable feedback from real users of the product in real time. And it only cost him a whopping $525 including the price of the ad. Boom.

Thank you to Michael Margolis and Design Staff for putting this article out there. It goes to show how smoothly remote user research can be completed even with a short window of time and a relatively small budget. Now, if only  ethnio was used for this quick and dirty project- the survey questions (branching logic added for interestingness), participant data, and incentives could have been managed all in one place. There’s always next time.



Lindsey Miller | Community Manager, Ethnio