Late last year, we were asked by one of our clients to run international UX research by way of a 4-country taxonomy study. The countries in question were Australia, Germany, Italy and the UK so different languages, time-zones and geographies. We have senior UX research consultants present in all of these markets so logistically it was simple although there were challenges.
Taxonomy methodologies are used to help organisations group and name items in a hierarchy. In a digital context this could be for a mega menu or for product facets. They usually involve a quantitative card sort – 200 people sorting and naming groups of items online. This is followed by a qualitative card sort. The qualitative card sort is carried out using a one-to-one depth session where the user literally organises and names cards on a table. We use the qualitative research to validate and fine tune the quantitative research and identify the “why” that can’t be understood from the quant.
The methodology is well understood and we use Optimal Sort for the quant card sort. This is a very effective tool and provides a range of analysis tools. For the qual card sort it is a simple meeting room table with overhead camera so we can capture the movement of cards during the session together with the discussion.
Ensuring consistent outcome
It is important when running multi-country international UX research to ensure there is senior oversight in place. Taxonomy projects are a good example of there being a well understood, tried and tested methodology in place. All our consultants would, for example, be comfortable analysing dendrograms and similarity matrices. Even so they may apply different tolerances for pairings and agreement. We establish up front the criteria we are using to base our recommendations on so that time isn’t wasted later in the project normalising all the analysis.
For most multi-country studies we carry out a consolidation activity between the quant and the qual. This allows us to take a helicopter view of the entire data set to see what it is telling us. We can then use the qual card sort for not only validating a specific markets quant results, but also considering “global” issues that may not have surfaced in that specific market.
Communication between the team members is crucial and we use Microsoft Teams for this. All members can see the feed and share with and learn from each other. The time differences present challenges but we are normally able to find an hour when everyone can join a team progress call.