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Designing unmoderated studies for success

A pocket guide on how to create a 30-minute conversation with yourself…

At UserTribe we specialize in unmoderated video studies (also known as self-tests), but what is an unmoderated study really and is it really possible to gain customer insights without person-to-person interaction? The answer is yes, but you will need to know how.

In this short guide, I will give you some pointers on how to develop a successful unmoderated study, the dos and don’ts, the pros, and cons of the science of designing a 30-minute conversation with yourself…

Keep it simple

As in so many aspects of life the key to success is often to keep it simple. The same goes for designing an unmoderated study. Make sure you do not do double-questions. Too complex questions, or double questions, provide output that can go in many directions and it will be hard to know exactly what the participant is actually answering and in which context they answer it.

Also try to keep the language down to earth in an everyday manner and keep the language playful and interesting – When doing that, you can keep the participant’s attention for longer.

The bad example

Has Covid-19 affected your work tasks and do you think about it during your work day?

The good example

How has Covid19 affected your work tasks? (if it has affected your tasks in any way) Please elaborate and explain what has happened.

How much do you think about Covid19 during a normal work day? Please explain your thoughts and potential worries.

Most people like to talk about themselves and elaborate on their own experiences, so make sure questions are related to the participant’s own experiences.

Anna Lilja SteensigHead of insights

The key is in the the why

When doing qualitative research, the key is in the why. This means that you will need more elaborate answers to the questions you ask. As there is no real-time interviewer present, this will need to be handled by the participant themselves. There are many techniques to get the participants talking, but a reminder to them to elaborate on their answers or spend approximately X number of minutes explaining their own experiences and frustrations is a good way to keep the conversation flowing.

Make it a good experience

For many participants unmoderated studies can seem a bit odd at first, as they will need to talk to themselves. Therefore you will need to make the experiences pleasant for them. This can often be achieved by asking a few easy and digestible questions before you ask more challenging questions.

Most people like to talk about themselves and elaborate on their own experiences, so make sure questions are related to the participant’s own experiences. This is a key component to make participants more comfortable. Make sure that you explain the purpose of the study and what the participant’s answers will help and assist with by participating.

The benefits of the unmoderated study

Following these steps can help you perform a successful unmoderated study, but what are the benefits of conducting unmoderated studies and not just performing the classical face-to-face moderated qualitative interviews?

Time & Cost

The most obvious benefit is time and cost. No matter if you use internal or external interviewers it takes up time and cost to conduct face-to-face interviews and this is time and money that could be spent elsewhere, e.g. on data analysis and business development.

Honest answers

Another, and my favourite benefit, is the honesty that we experience when customers are at home, in the comfort of their own house, using their own device. This can be very intriguing. We often see that participants are reacting very strongly, both in a good or bad sense, to what they see and experience, and even though the participants can give your app, website or campaign “tough love”, their emotions are real and honest.

Know the limitations

Even though I really love the unmoderated study format, there are always limitations with how you conduct customer research. The format requires user-friendly software for recording, to make sure your participants feel safe, and other “boring” stuff such as data-handling that lives up to the current legislation.

Besides this, the format is not made for hour-long sessions. Our experience is that participants become fatigued after talking for half an hour and the depth of the answers will drop accordingly. We always recommend to keep it short and simple and limit the number of questions to make sure that we get the best part of the participants’ answers; and then rather do another study, with more wisdom on the questions you ask and ask again.

As for the last recommendation: Don’t be afraid to trial and error! At UserTribe we have a saying called: Fail fast! Besides being a catchy marketing line, it actually makes a lot of sense. This means that you need to learn along the way – Testing often and learning from your customer also applies to the unmoderated study setup.

If you do not nail all the questions in one go, don’t worry! Try again and learn from the steps along the way – Or give me or one of my co-workers a call, we have a lot of experience in the area of unmoderated studies and would love to chat to you about how we can help you get started!

Feel free to contact us or if you want to learn more about our platform and how we use unmoderated studies to help organizations with their customer-centricity, you can find more information here.

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Looking for a quote, curious to learn more about the platform or just have some general questions? We are ready to help!

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Langebrogade 4
1411 Copenhagen

Phone: +45 7734 8685