'Inbound & Down'
Question of the Day

Published October 23, 2019

What is observational research?

  1. Observation of a target audience in their natural setting.
  2. Observation of a target audience in a research environment.
  3. Research a prospect conducts, observing a company he/she is considering doing business with.

The Answer is A.

Observational research is conducted by studying users in their natural environment. By doing so, it's helpful to learn how these individuals genuinely interact with your materials.

This is in contrast to running studies in a controlled research setting, which may sway users' interactions, as they are aware of being watched and may subsequently skew their actions based on the results they believe you are looking for. 

Observational research can be conducted in person or digitally. 

An example of in-person observational research would be going to a public place—such as a coffee shop or a town square—and people-watching. Much can be identified based on how those you observe interact with one another and what actions they take while in the public setting of your choice.

A great example of web analytics is digital research. There are various tools available online which are able to gauge how users are interacting with your website:

  • pages visited (and in what order)
  • time spent on page
  • number of pages visited

Details like this provide significant insight into which parts of your website are successful and what aspects may require additional work.

This can be taken a step further with heat maps, which identify how users interact with a page. By visually displaying areas with the most mouse activity and clicks, versus those with minimal engagement, heat maps are extremely useful. 

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