Focus groups are a qualitative method to learn about customer attitudes and preferences for conceptual models, products, and services. Typically, focus groups are conducted by a trained moderator and last one to two hours. Most focus groups consist of 8 to 12 respondents who share common characteristics such as demographics, purchase patterns, industry or work experiences.
In-depth interviews are often used to capture that information that might not come out in focus group research. IDIs are most often used where the topic matter is personal, involves testing technology, or to gain more in-depth insight into customer behavior. Where focus groups rely on the exchange or cross-fertilization of ideas, IDIs are used to probe deeper into respondent attitudes and beliefs. IDIs typically last between 30 to 60 minutes.
Ethnography refers to an observation research methodology created by social scientists to different cultures observe in-depth and in-person. Ethnography literally means "picture of a people". Companies use ethnographic research to explore who there customers are, what they need and how the use their products.
Quantitative research methodologies are used to statistically validate customer preferences and attitudes. Surveys can be done online, by telephone, in-person, via mail. Surveys typically include 100-400 participates. The duration of the survey depends on number of respondents interviewed and the mode of communication.
Bulletin boards are a rapidly growing methodology for conducting online research. Bulletin Boards groups typically last for 3 to 5 days and involve 10 to 20 respondents. They are an excellent and convenient way to explore ideas, products and attitudes because respondents are allowed to participate where and when they want. Also, respondents can reflect and respond to questions at their own pace.
Usability research is many things to many people. Ideally, it is an integrated, iterative process that complements the product development cycle. Testing usually is done with 6 to 10 respondents and lasts 40 to 60 minutes. The type of research methodology varies depending on how developed the product or prototype is, the complexity of the product or application, and the novelty of the product concept.