As a company building a product for users in other countries, we always want to know more about our users – their experience with our products, of course, but also their lives, their desires, and their frustrations around access to internet. Knowing these things about our users helps us keep the focus on designing for the context our products will really be used in.
However, learning about our users come with a big challenge: how do we meet and connect with people who are willing and technologically able to spend time with us? We want to speak to people who represent a wide array of backgrounds, not only the users whom are easiest to access.
In the past, we primarily spoke to users who are fans of our mCent Facebook page. When we want to learn more about a certain topic, we post a call for interviewees on the page and users would message us to start the conversation. Others contact us voluntarily, to bring our attention to issues they have with the app or simply to say hi. Considering the popularity of Facebook in India, we tolerated the self-selection bias because we believe some feedback in a timely manner is better than no feedback at all.
Now, we are trying to build our own user research study pool. To start, we sent an in-app message out to a couple thousand Indian mCent users. 60 interested users signed up to be contacted when a study is launched. They were allowed to indicate willingness to participate in surveys, Skype interviews, user tests, and home visits. Several of our study pool volunteers are actually willing to be visited in their homes!
We are continuing to work out the process. For example, nice lengthy email invitations don’t work, Whatsapp is somewhat better. We might also build our own in-app prompts to invite users to complete surveys or complete other studies, so we won’t have to depend on another in-app messaging software. In the meantime, if you think of a research topic or study, let me know! A study pool opens the door to conduct a lot more and frequent user experience research studies!