Remote Research

Over the years, Anagram Research has mindfully recommended and used a remote research approach on a number of projects.

Our recommendations to use a remote research approach have been made in response to varied objectives:

  • Logistics or scale…
  • To accommodate participant preferences or profiles…
  • To enable a large client team visiting India for a short period to observe research with a range of users in a short span of time…
  • To help global researchers gain a cultural context before the start of fieldwork…
  • To validate or build on insights emerging from in-context research…

Here’s a glimpse into some of Anagram Research’s experiences and approaches to remote research:

  • Longitudinal Research

    A client wanted to understand the positive and negative experiences that target users faced on their app and on competing apps.
    In addition, they wanted to gain an in-depth understanding about user behaviors, attitudes and expectations.

    Since app usage typically varied over time and across contexts, Anagram Research recommended a longitudinal research approach.
    A Diary Study with 48 participants was conducted across 4 Indian metros, over a period of 7 days.

    As participants were tech savvy, the study was designed to be conducted remotely.
    Doing this helped ease several challenges typical to traditional Diary Studies.
    In the past, we have used software like FocusVision Revelation for remote Diary Studies.
    For this project, we used a bootstrapped approach – Interacting with participants over WhatsApp and phone calls.

    On each day, participants were asked to explore the app they were using and answer a few questions from the researchers.
    Responses were in the form of text messages, images (screen captures) or short video clips.

    In order to explore emerging themes and potentially interesting threads from the initial research, we followed the Diary Study with Triads, attended by the same set of participants.

    While the Diary Study method is well suited to a remote format, group discussions are better done face-to-face.
    The Triads were held at centrally located, professional research facilities.

    The output of this research was an insights presentation that included a set of overarching insights and recommendations, supported by detailed slides and brief written recommendations.
    Our report also included a section on usability / experience issues faced by users.

  • Direct Interviews

    Over the years, Anagram Research has conducted remote one-on-one interviews for several different projects.
    These interviews are conducted over the phone or using a web conferencing platform.

    The pros and cons of remote research are widely known through the numerous articles and blog posts across research and design forums.

    The value that a remote format can bring in certain circumstances was nicely illustrated on two separate projects, where we used both remote and face-to-face formats:

    In a study with non-professional caregivers to the elderly, interviews conducted remotely had a flavor that was distinct from face-to-face interviews.
    Caregivers we spoke to remotely, seemed less uncomfortable initiating a dialog around the unspoken burdens of caregiving.
    Caregivers we met in-person on the other hand, found it harder to verbalize this openly, preferring to focus instead on other aspects of caregiving.

    On another study to map employee experience journeys, it was important for us to reassure participating employees about confidentiality.
    We attempted to address this – By not video recording interactions, by switching off audio recording during sensitive discussions and by emphasizing our status as a neutral third party.
    Despite these measures, employees we spoke to remotely over calls, were strikingly more candid than employees we interacted with on our client’s premises.

 Remote research can be more ‘convenient’ and cost effective than traditional research methods.
It is also the safest option today, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While there are many instances where remote research is the best choice, it is not necessarily the best approach for all research objectives and questions.

Remote Research should not become the ‘new norm’ by default.
It is imperative to evaluate whether a remote approach can meet your specific research objectives or whether a project is best pushed to a later date, when more research choices may open up.

You don’t need to have it all figured out before you contact us!

We are happy to talk to you to understand your research or business objectives, and make recommendations on the best approach.