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Panellist innovation and the future of data collection

by Raj Manocha.

AC_02Many data collection companies continue to innovate data methodologies, and data collection environments, to provide researchers with opportunities to collect data in extremely efficient ways.

In some instances, innovation occurs as a means to solve the needs of researchers. In other cases, innovation is the causality of online panellists wanting better ways to communicate their opinions. While the former may help the industry move forward, the latter is the reason the industry exists – so special care needs to be taken with respect to panellist innovation.

It seems extremely apparent, but our greatest asset in understanding how to collect data is to ask our panellists. They have actively consented to participate in research, and genuinely care about providing their opinions.

The obvious premise: why wouldn’t we try to cater experiences to the ways in which they want to respond? For example, almost 20 per cent of surveys in the industry are accessed on a mobile device. If one out of every five people wants to complete in this environment, why do researchers continue to offer research instruments that are not conducive to the mobile format? If you’re excluding 20 per cent of the population, is that really representative? As a researcher, it’s time to modernize your research techniques and understand exactly what data collection companies have to offer.

AskingCanadians recently streamlined all our environments with responsive design. Responsive design is the idea that surveys adjust to the screen/device a panellist is using to access the survey. For example, if a survey is taken on a mobile phone, the question design will be adapted to fit the screen and create an experience that the panellist would expect to have on their mobile device.

The idea of responsive design, from a data collection perspective, was born from the feedback our panellists gave us about their experiences. Many were frustrated at screening out if they had the wrong device, or if the survey didn’t fit on the smaller screens. In an effort to make sure we were providing the best possible experience, we provided a complete overhaul in the way our surveys are implemented.

However, that’s only half the battle. Responsive design becomes truly effective when researchers understand exactly how to implement their questionnaires.  The real opportunity for researchers is to collaborate with data collection firms, and learn what’s possible. When we start to move from vendor-client relationships to equal partner relationships, the researcher becomes much more powerful.

Responsive design is a great stepping stone in understanding the future of data collection. Just as online research changed phone research, we all need to be cognizant that we’re clearly not at the end of the possibilities.