Using Mobile Technologies in Research
One critical trend that is transforming the research industry is the rapid adoption of mobile technologies, especially smartphones. It transforms research in multiple ways. It means that people disconnect their landlines, so we have to adjust our methods for phone polling. But more importantly, it means people are accessible in multiple ways (text, phone, email) all the time, and wherever they are. We can ask them for feedback instantaneously in the stores where they shop, or as they are making a decision we care about. We can talk to them, send messages, ask them to respond to survey questions, ask them to take pictures or videos for us, and so on. There are amazing opportunities for rich, immediate data for research that we could only dream about a few years back.
Quirk’s magazine recently ran a set of articles about trends in mobile research, focusing in particular on survey research. We thought it is was worth repeating some of the insights highlighted in those articles:
- Surveys via mobile devices are increasingly possible, both SMS-based and web-based surveys
- Achieving representative samples for mobile surveys can be a challenge, however
- Attention spans for mobile surveys are short; ask no more than five or six simple questions
- Design surveys with small screens in mind
- Avoid long questions that need explanation
- Avoid long lists of answer options
- Avoid grid questions
- Take advantage of open-ended questions; people with mobile devices are capable (and often prefer) typing out responses on their phones
- Be sure to cover any costs that respondents might incur
Although nobody should be doing mobile research just because they can, keeping up with new tools, capabilities, and opportunities for rich data is one piece of doing smart and rigorous research. Versta Research can advise, and help you take advantage of new technologies and methods when, and if, you need them.
—Joe Hopper, Ph.D.