Closer to the experience – The case for mobile research

October 3rd, 2016 by Ben Claxton

Speed and affordability have been drivers for mobile research’s adoption, but the desire to really understand the customer experience is also at the heart of mobile’s success.

Mobile research can mean a few different things. It covers surveys, mobile user testing and ethnography, to name a few. At nativeye, our focus is on qual and ethnography and what interests us most is how technology can help understand people’s experiences better, so we can help improve the products and services they use.

We think of mobile as providing a window into people’s worlds. As a research technology, it has two really great features: it has a camera and you take it everywhere.

This means that people can report on their activities and experiences as they happen (e.g. with photos, videos and text). There’s no forgetting things after the event – they can show you what’s occurring and tell you how they feel about it in the moment –, details that easily become lost otherwise.

Our phone is such an integral part of our routine that it’s the perfect tool to capture the everyday – things like grocery shopping or posting a parcel.

Three Reasons That Make The Case For Mobile

So Reason #1 in the case for mobile is that, by fitting in with people’s lives, it helps you get closer to the customer / audience experience.

Reason #2 is that it lets you gather rich data from around the world without leaving your office.

You could argue that you get purer data by being there in person, but 1) it’s less cost-effective; 2) you can’t practically keep a diary on someone else; and 3) it takes longer because you have to research subjects one after the other. If you are doing a national or international project, these factors really add up.

With mobile, a photo diary is surprisingly revealing and video tasks add further depth.

Reason #3 is that mobile research is a fun and natural process for participants.

Selfies, love them or hate them, are an indication of people’s comfort of posting about themselves. Mobile research is as easy and as natural for people as posting to social media. When participants can see their posts and others’, or where the researcher can react and comment (all of which you can do with nativeye), they feel heard and appreciated and, therefore, are more likely to stay engaged in the project. So, to recap:

1. Mobile helps you get closer to the customer / audience experience

2. You get rich data from around the world without leaving your office

3. It’s a natural and fun process for participants

In the next post we’ll look at the key elements for running a successful mobile research study, so watch this space. If you are interested in finding our more about mobile or have any questions, please get in touch at


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