Our guest post is written by Anahelena of Zen Labs, creator of the Kid-Capsule family journal app. Anahelena has been brainstorming on what to create for her next title, and discussed ideas with a group of teens from her local high school. This story is a reminder that real input to validate ideas can save us time and money down the line.
I wanted to see if Kid-Capsule would appeal to teenagers. I thought I could easily take my existing app, perform a few “cosmetic” changes, and launch a new app for a new market. Boy was I wrong! Thankfully, I decided to reach out to a few girls in my local high school. What I found out was that they would take the concept in an entirely different direction. You know what else I found out? That I don’t know anything about teenagers.
My initial plan was to show them the app and see what superficial changes should be made so it would appeal to their age group. After receiving some much needed input from the MWA developer community I decided to mix it up and add a few more items to our session.
Here are a few lessons I learned along the way:
Location, location, location: Pick your venue wisely. It will work better for you and your group if you are in a closed, air conditioned space.
Command attention: Situate yourself in front of your audience where you can see everyone and they can see you. That way you won’t lose their interest. A table could work, but it must be big enough to accommodate everybody comfortably.
Record the session: It would be ideal to take video (or at least audio) of what is being said. The sessions are organic and people spontaneously interject , so it becomes challenging to write every idea down.
Broad ideas: Think about asking broader questions before you dive into specifics of the app. Some sample questions could be:
- If you had to choose one app or function of your device, what would it be?
- What are your very favorite apps and why?
- What makes you decide to actually buy an app?
- How do you use your device to communicate with friends and family?
- What would your dream app do? (Imagine there are no limits)
All of these questions are valid for any app focus group because they will give you “feature” ideas.
App Testing: If you want to have them test an existing app, you might have them do it in groups, or you could give the app to a single person and give the rest of the group a written activity or perhaps a “water” break.
Retribution: Some folks pay each attendee. In my case, I bought them each a Frappucino. Every focus group will be different. If you are on a tight budget, I think finding nonprofit community groups and offering a donation could be a good start.
Who else is doing focus groups, and what tips and techniques do you suggest?