How to Run an Effective True Intent Study

true intent study

A true intent study is simply a study of who is visiting your website and what their user experience is like. The study seeks answers to questions such as;

  • Who are the visitors – demographics, lifestyle etc?
  • Why are they visiting the site – curiosity, a particular purpose, information, buying intent and so on;
  • Were they able to achieve their objective easily and without obstacles or frustration;
  • What were their positive experiences and views and what was negative?

The obvious value of a true intent study is that you discover more about your users and their motivations and useful insights about their experience of using your site and whether it is overall an positive visit or not.

The benefit of conducting these studies is that you capture users and their data while they are actually accessing the site and performing specific tasks so the information is fresh, relevant and focused on direct needs and experience rather than vaguely remembered and expressed thoughts after the fact. If you include some more open questions where qualitative data is more likely to be collected you might get insights and information that you weren’t especially looking for or expecting which can help in identifying issues or problems which you hadn’t been previously aware of.

Before you carry out a true intent study you need to consider a few points;

  • Be clear exactly what you are looking for – is it just general information with some opinions about the overall experience or do you have a specific issue that you wish to explore?
  • Decide which section of your audience you want to address if the issue is segment specific;
  • Choose where to place the user intercept – if you are seeking specific information about how a particular section or function works it is probably best to place the intercept there.  If it is general, the home page or entry point might be the best place. Whichever you decide the intercept should go at the beginning and not the end of any discrete task;
  • If the survey is generic, decide what sample size you want and how you are going to capture these;
  • Determine what means you will use to conduct the survey – this can be done through an emulator site (probably the least desirable and effective route); an overlay which leads the user through the process to completing the survey; or the survey opening in a new window for the user to complete which is probably the preferred method.

Demographic data and quantitative and qualitative information can be obtained through a true intent study but you need to be careful about overloading the survey as users will tend to get disinterested pretty quickly so only ask really relevant questions and keep it short; for example, if you don’t need some of the personal info don’t collect it. Make sure you put the really important questions in early so you get the most useful responses before survey fatigue kicks in and the user just starts ticking random boxes!

If this is a topic that interests you and you would like to know more why not get in touch and email us at for an exploratory chat.

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