Last night I attended the Ladies that UX London meet-up on International Research, featuring presentations by three Google researchers: Alessandra Millar, Saswati Saha Mitra, and Jeannie Foulsham.
They presented their insights and experiences around international research in emerging markets, in particular drawing on examples from Brazil and India.
Shifting focus to emerging markets
The Google presentation explained how more and more of the online population is formed of users in emerging markets; companies need to be aware of the need to make relevant products for these people that are starting to get online.
Although they may have specific requirements (e.g. they may be mobile-first users without access to desktops), ultimately the learnings will benefit all of your users (e.g. designing mobile-first will be better for users in other markets as well).
Conducting international research is about building empathy – bringing the stories of these users to life so that your designers/engineers/decision-makers will consider them when thinking about a product or service.
The ladies all spoke about the importance of managing stakeholders’ expectations: one international trip won’t be able to give every single answer for that country, and there will be a lot of variation regionally within one single country.
How to do international research?
The ladies at Google told us that up to 50% of your research might be done before you even get into the field, through desk research in order to reduce the number of questions that you have going into the field.
“The more focused you can be with your questions, the better” – Saswati Saha Mitra
They also advocated getting as many people as possible helping out with the research in the field: designers, engineers… they can all contribute to the body of data collected, rather than simply observing the research as it happens.
Here were some key learnings about conducting research in the field:
- Immersion – Try to immerse yourself into the environment
- Testing – Get participants to “do rather than say” – if they describe a behaviour, ask them to show you
- Homeshare – Choose to stay with locals over hotels, you will learn more this way
- Public places – Go to local places rather than ‘tourist’ destinations
- Explore the beyond – Consider insights which may help solve questions in future, that may not be directly answering your original research question but are related
All three speakers provided some very rich insights into the world of international research, and provided some practical advice about how to go about doing this.
I’ll be looking forward to the next Ladies That UX London meet-up – if you’re interested in attending any of these then check out their website which contains background information and details about upcoming events.