Beyond Usability Testing: Focus Groups

Time and again I have emphasised the importance of usability testing. I have also mentioned how focus groups can be used as part of usability testing. This can be done by holding the focus group after usability testing to get feed back and suggestions from users.

Focus groups can also be used to help give you direction with your website design during the initial planning stages. Holding a focus group from the very start is a very good idea since it will help you determine the exact needs as well as other preferences of your users. The information you can get from your focus group will be really in-depth and can have a really wide scope covering everything from their perception of your business/idea to their expectations of features that should be offered by your website.

When doing a focus group keep in mind that you should:

  1. get participants that are representative of your target users
  2. keep the group size manageable (6 to 8 participants is good) to ensure that everyone gets to participate actively
  3. choose a moderator that is not only knowledgable in the field of web design but that has great social skills so as to be able to draw out participants
  4. make sure that you record everything discussed in the focus group

If you have a large user base as your target and feel that 6 to 9 people is not enough you can get more participants but you might want to hold several focus groups instead of just one.

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