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Thomas Charles  Rohleder   Tcha@itu.dk   www.curly-­‐tom.com  

Fly on  the  wall  versus  Focus  groups   Amount  of  characters:  7649  +  one  images  amounting  to  500  characters  =  8149    

Table of  Contents   FLY  ON  THE  WALL  VERSUS  FOCUS  GROUPS  

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1.1.      INTRODUCTION   1.2.        OBSERVATION   1.2.1     FLY  ON  THE  WALL   1.3.        FOCUS  GROUP  INTERVIEWS   1.4.        COMPARATIVE  ANALYSIS   1.5.        PERSPECTIVE   1.6.            LITERATURE  

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1.1.

Introduction

In this  paper  I  will  look  at  the  differences  between  the  two  qualitative  data   gathering  techniques  Fly  on  the  wall  observations  and  Focus  groups.  I  find  this   very  intriguing  because  it  is  two  very  different  methods  of  data  gathering.  In  the   first  method  the  user  is  passively  observed  in  their  natural  settings,  while  in  the   other  the  user  is  actively  engaged  into  a  group  debate  through  out  the  focus   group  interview.  This  is  very  relevant  for  my  later  co-­‐design  process  in  dealing   with  our  target  group  of  football  fans  and  their  media  usage.  

1.2.

Observation

Observations are  practical  for  data  gathering  at  different  stages  of  a  design   process.    In  the  early  stage  observations  can  serve  to  understand  the  users   context,  task  and  goals.  In  the  later  part  it  may  serve  for  evaluation  of  how  well  a   given  prototype  supports  the  aforementioned.  Observations  can  be  done  in  the   field  (Fly  on  the  wall)  or  in  a  controlled  environment  such  as  in  a  laboratory   (usability  testing,  Focus  groups  etc.)  (Rogers,  Sharp  &  Preece  2011,  p.321).  In  this   paper  my  focus  will  be  on  the  Fly  on  the  wall  observations  versus  Focus  group   interview.  

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Thomas Charles  Rohleder   Tcha@itu.dk   www.curly-­‐tom.com  

1.2.1   Fly  on  the  wall   Fly  on  the  wall  is  a  method  for  observing  the  user  in  their  natural  settings   without  any  form  of  intervention  (Raijmakers,  Gaver  &  Bishay  2006,  p.230).   Doing  a  fly  on  the  wall  observation  the  researcher  follows  the  user  doing  the   activity  that  the  researcher  needs  to  collect  data  about,  either  recording  what  is   going  on  or  taking  notes.  Doing  a  Fly  on  the  wall  observation  the  researcher   needs  to  be  as  unnoticed  as  possible.   Observations  are  very  useful  hence  it  can  be  very  difficult  for  people  to  explain   what  they  do  to  achieve  a  given  task  accurately  doing  an  interview.  (Rogers,   Sharp  &  Preece  2011,  p.323)     Ethnographic  observations  are  a  good  way  of  uncovering  people’s  real  desires;   by  gaining  insight  into  the  subject’s  life  world.  (Rogers,  Sharp  &  Preece  2011,   p.330)     The  type  of  data  gained  from  ethnographic  observational  studies  such  as  Fly  on   the  wall  can  be  categorised  into  categories  such  as  space,  actors,  activities,   objects,  acts,  events,  time,  goals  and  feelings.  (Rogers,  Sharp  &  Preece  2011,   p.325)   Critique  point  of  the  fly  on  the  wall  method;  at  least  when  it  comes  to  filming,   could  be  that  no  film  is  entirely  objective.    On  the  other  hand  Fly  on  the  wall  is   very  useful  when  the  design  team  needs  a  subjective  understanding.   (Raijmakers,  Gaver  &  Bishay  2006,  p.230)  

1.3.

Focus group  interviews  

The Focus  group  interview  method  is  very  useful  in  the  initial  phase  of  the   iterative  design  cycle.  It  is  a  social  research  method,  which  swiftly  and   inexpensively  can  be  used  to  gain  knowledge  about  a  group  of  users  relationship   to  a  product  or  a  social  context.    Practically  a  focus  group  consists  of  some   members  of  the  target  group  and  a  moderator  or  two  and  perhaps  some   observers.  It  is  difficult  to  define  which  size  a  focus  group  should  have,  according   to  Krueger  the  size  is  determined  by  the  relationship  between  everyone  having   the  opportunity  to  express  insight  and  the  group  being  large  enough  to  produce   divers  usable  data.  

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Thomas Charles  Rohleder   Tcha@itu.dk   www.curly-­‐tom.com     “Focus  groups  must  be  small  enough  for  everyone  to  have  the  opportunity  to  share   insights  and  yet  large  enough  to  provide  a  diversity  of  perceptions”     -­‐  Richard  A.  Krueger  (Kuniavsky  2003,  p.156)           According  to  Kuniavsky  six  to  eight  people  is  a  very  useful  number  when  it   comes  to  examining  user  experiences.  In  much  marketing  they  would  use  a   larger  number  of  participants.  (Kuniavsky  2003,  p.156)   One  of  the  goals  of  the  moderator  is  to  make  sure  that  the  people  who  are   partaking  in  the  discussion  feel  comfortable  thus  they  will  reveal  their  inner   thought  and  feelings  about  the  subject.  Also  it  is  the  moderator’s  job  to  guide  the   discussion  in  the  direction  of  focus  for  the  research.  It  can  be  necessary  to   conduct  several  focus  groups,  but  rarely  more  then  four.  The  true  purpose  of  the   focus  group  interview  is  not  to  generalize  but  to  provide  insight  to  how  people   perceive  a  certain  situation.  And  perhaps  to  how  they  relate  it  to  the  real  world.   (Kuniavsky  2003,  p.150)  this  is  different  from  the  Fly  on  the  wall  method;  which   is  conducted  in  the  real  world.  Also  the  focus  group  is  useful  to  conduct  research   about  social  interaction.  One  of  the  critique  points  of  focus  group  interviews  is  the   fact  that  a  careless  moderator  can  influence  the  participants.    

1.4.

Comparative analysis    

The two  aforementioned  methods  have  both  differences  and  similarities.  They   are  similar  in  the  sense  that  both  are  conducted  as  observations.  Also  neither   requires  the  participant  to  have  any  design  experience  nor  is  the  workload  of  the   participants  very  big.  They  differentiate  on  a  few  levels.  First  of  all  fly  on  the  wall   is  conducted  in  real  world  settings  whereas  focus  group  interviews  is  conducted   in  a  safe  and  comfortable  environment;  such  as  a  meeting  room.    Secondly  the   researchers  role  is  very  different  during  the  two  methods,  during  Fly  on  the  wall   the  researcher  needs  to  be  as  invisible  as  possible  whereas  the  researcher  has  an   active  role  as  moderator  during  the  focus  group  interview.  Also  the  output  of  data   is  very  different.  In  the  focus  group  the  output  is  usually  opinions,  feelings  and   social  dynamic.  Whereas  the  output  of  the  Fly  on  the  wall  method  is  more   concrete  in  the  sense  that  the  researcher  gain  access  to  the  precise  actions  and   work  practices  of  the  participant.  The  Fly  on  the  wall  observation  is  much  more   3    


Thomas Charles  Rohleder   Tcha@itu.dk   www.curly-­‐tom.com   time-­‐consuming  when  it  comes  to  both  data  gathering  and  analysis  then  the   focus  group  interview  which  is  very  handy  in  the  beginning  of  the  design  funnel,   hence  the  researchers  can  quickly  and  inexpensively  gain  access  to  large   amounts  of  qualitative  data  about  the  user  and  about  the  context.      

(The  Dynamics  of  the  Design  Funnel,  Buxton  2007  p.138)  

1.5.

Perspective  

In dealing  with  our  target  group  of  football  fans,  between  the  ages  of  thirty  and   forty.  Both  methods  have  been  very  beneficial  for  us.  We  used  Fly  on  the  wall   observations  on  a  sports-­‐bar  and  at  a  football  match  in  the  beginning  of  our   teamwork  to  pinpoint  how  football  fans  behave  in  certain  situations,  and  to   examine  the  jargon  between  people  watching  a  football  match.  We  used  the  data   collected  through  this  method  to  figure  out  the  direction  we  wanted  our  focus   group  interview  to  take.  We  conducted  a  focus  group  interview  because  we   needed  to  lay  a  foundation  for  a  future  workshop,  which  we  are  planning  to   conduct  very  soon.  The  data  gathered  from  the  focus  group  interview  informs  us   on  a  very  broad  level  about  how  the  participants  access  statistics  and  data  about   Danish  football  in  particular,  but  also  on  how  they  use  this  data  in  social   contexts.    

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Thomas Charles  Rohleder   Tcha@itu.dk   www.curly-­‐tom.com  

1.6.

Literature  

Sharp, H.,  Rogers,  Y.  and  Preece,  J.,  2011,  Interaction  Design  2nd  ed.,  John  Wiley  &   Sons   Kuniavsky,  M.,  2003,  Observing  the  User  Experience:  A  Practitioner's  Guide  to   User  Research,  Morgan  Kaufmann  Publishers,  San  Francisco       Raijmakers,  B.,  Gaver,  W.  W.,  and  Bishay,  J.  2006.  Design  documentaries:inspiring   design  research  through  documentary  film.  In  Proceedings  of  the  6th Conference  on  Designing  interactive  Systems  (University  Park,  PA,  USA,  June  26   ‐ 28,  2006).     Buxton,  B.,  2007,  Sketching  User  Experiences:  Getting  the  Design  Right  and  the   Right  Design,  Morgan  Kaufmann  Publishers,  San  Francisco            

                     

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Fly on the wall observations vs Focus groups  

Comparing the two types of observations

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