How to Forge Inclusive Design in Market Research

How to Forge Inclusive Design in Market Research

Market researchers should aim towards creating an inclusive design in their market research campaigns. 

This is important in a number of ways and can be used to optimize various primary market research techniques, whether they are intended to examine product satisfaction, a workplace, a target market, a new product launch or the vast set of other market research studies. 

While it may appear to be a feat to create inclusive design in market research tools, it is possible with surveys, provided you use the proper online survey platform and incorporate best practices for inclusive design.

This article explains inclusive design in the market research sphere, why it is important, how it benefits surveys, research and a business at large, along with how to establish such a design in your market research campaigns.

Defining Inclusive Design

Inclusive design refers to the design approach that recognizes the full range of human diversity, taking into account various circumstances such as ability, language, gender, age, culture and other forms of difference.

The principle of inclusive design is to ensure that no one is excluded from various products, technologies and digital experiences.

Fixed on designing experiences that are as inclusive as possible, inclusive design involves creating solutions that suit users with specific needs and abilities. Users with disabilities are particularly at a loss when interacting with products and digital experiences.

Such users should not be ignored, as they deserve to be seen and heard — they too make up a target market and ought to be studied in market research. However, many designers, including those in the market research space overlook this. Consequently, disabled users suffer the outcomes.   

In the United States, 1 in 4 Americans suffers from a disability. With inclusive design, designers across sectors can create inclusive experiences so that no user undergoes difficulties or accessibility issues. 

However, businesses must remember that inclusive design does not solely focus on accessibility and catering to users with disabilities. Rather it takes this notion and extends it across a wide spectrum of circumstances that various respondents go through. 

The Importance of Inclusive Design in Market Research & Surveys

Inclusive design is both applicable and important in market research, as researchers study all kinds of people in a given target market and its various segments. As such, they must cater to a diverse range of human experiences to avoid them any trouble.

In this way, inclusive design is not solely a concern and responsibility for designers. Researchers are essentially the designers in market research campaigns — whether they are conducting phone interviews, a focus group, a survey panel, in-person interviews or most commonly and conveniently — a market research survey.

Inclusive design is important for a number of reasons. The following explains these reasons, some of which may not be as evident as others and are thus crucial to consider.

  1. Without an inclusive design, scores of key target market respondents will leave the survey. Thus, it directly causes survey attrition
  2. An inclusive design makes it easier for a diverse set of respondents to complete their survey. 
  3. Surveys not designed with inclusivity as a priority will be brushed aside or left incomplete, increasing the completion time to gain all survey quotas
  4. Without inclusivity, many key respondents will bear bad associations with surveys, preventing them from taking future surveys, even if those surveys are optimized for inclusivity.
  5. Your brand will be poorly regarded if the survey mentions it or displays it at any time
  6. Surveys and other market research tools that don’t incorporate inclusive design are a waste of time, labor and resources.
  7. Inclusive design that covers all areas of diversity will make customers feel visible in regards to their unique circumstances.
  8. An inclusive design in a survey that explicitly mentions a brand will frame the brand in a positive light among customers, as it will show them that the brand has empathy and respects them.
    1. Such a positive experience, along with others will increase respondents’ willingness to participate in future survey/ market research campaigns.

How Inclusive Design Differs from Accessible Design

Inclusive design and accessible design are similar concepts, centered on the idea that disabilities are bound to come up whenever users interact with any environment. They both aim to put an end to any difficulties different users may face by improving the environment itself, be it on a digital property or a product. 

Inclusive design often focuses on making surveys and other tools more accessible to users with disabilities, thus it carries some aspects of accessible design. Although these terms are used interchangeably, they differ in considerable ways. 

The following illustrates how accessible design and inclusive design differ, so that you can avoid mistaking one for the other.

Accessible Design 

This concept is most concerned with the results of a design project. It uses accessibility guidelines as the framework for any campaign. Such guidelines are published by government agencies and industry groups to ensure that those with disabilities have ease of access in digital spaces.  

Closely tied to government and law, this idea focuses on producing the best outcomes for users with special needs.

Inclusive Design 

This idea is focused on the design approach rather than outcomes. As such, it includes different methodologies on how to create more inclusive environments, be they online or in-store. Like accessibility, it involves better serving those with disabilities. 

However, it also encompasses a broad range of diverse people and situations, taking into account things like gender, religion, age, quality of life and more. 

Creating Inclusive Design in Market Research 

There are various efforts market researchers can take in order to generate inclusive design in their surveys and other methods of garnering primary research. First off, businesses must remember that inclusive design does not simply concern itself with accessibility.

Instead, research departments must forge surveys or other research tools/methods that bear in mind a wide set of situations that diverse populations face. When forging inclusive design, market researchers must create surveys that show respect and heedful attention to a variety of factors in order to avoid making research participants uncomfortable or unable to partake.

Instead, an inclusive design should make market research participants feel at ease along with being shame-free and pressure-free when they take part in a study and answer various questions.

The Three Dimensions of Inclusive Design 

In order to cater to the above target conditions and factors, researchers ought to familiarize themselves with the three dimensions of inclusive design. These pillars dictate how to optimize the user experience (UX) in order to establish inclusivity.

Designers and market researchers alike must incorporate these critical concepts into their inclusive design strategy, as they address the many factors that inclusive design must work towards. The following explains what they are along with tips on how to implement them: 

    1. Understanding diversity and uniqueness
      1. Remember that each respondent is unique.
      2. The needs of outliers or special needs users are diverse.
      3. A “mass solution” will not be ideal. Rather, consider individual circumstances.
      4. However, do not use segregated solutions; they’re not economically sustainable.
      5. Instead, opt for personalization and flexible layouts.
      6. Avoid systems that make choices for respondents, instead allow for self-determination and self-knowledge. 
    2. Inclusive processes and tools
      1. Design teams and researchers should those who have lived a special needs/extreme user situation.
      2. Or, they must consult with them to proactively create inclusive surveys, etc.
      3. In addition, these teams must either incorporate or consult with a diverse group of people.
      4. This links the design with the application
    3. The larger beneficial impact
      1. Market researchers should be fully aware of the context of any research campaign, along with how participants may interpret and perceive it. 
      2. Inclusive design should incite a continuous streak of inclusion; this involves using inclusive design in various design aspects. 

How to Create Inclusive Design in Market Research for Various Conditions & Demographics 

The following enumerates the key targets of inclusive design along with how to optimize for these particular circumstances and demographics. 

While there is no specific formula to master inclusive design, researchers can make much headway in this by considering the following situations and demographics and their corresponding advice for inclusivity in surveys and other tools. 

Inclusive Design for Various Types of Disabilities:

  1. Visual
    1. Create larger font sizes across devices.
    2. Use color contrast best practices
  2. Auditory
    1. Use surveys as opposed to calls, in-person interviews and focus groups
    2. If you conduct studies via speech, assure that respondents are equipped to hear you.
  3. Cognitive
    1. Create icons next to concepts for a clear understanding of questions/ themes
    2. Explain the purpose of a survey before the screening section.
    3. Do not ask for respondents to click when an option can be automated
  4. Physical
    1. Opt for phone interviews or surveys.
    2. Be mindful of the questions you ask in regards to physical abilities and disabilities.
    3. Avoid crossing personal boundaries in the questionnaire.
  5. Speech
    1. Opt for surveys.
    2. Be mindful of the questions you ask in regards to speech abilities and capabilities.
    3. Avoid crossing personal boundaries in the questionnaire.

Diverse Social Factors:

  1. Race
  2. Ethnicity
  3. Gender identity
    1. Use imagery that includes a wide range of demographics (include variations of the first 3 social factors)
    2. Include your company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion in the intro and the post questionnaire “thank you” section.
  4. Sexuality
    1. Do not posit any questions that take a stance on sexuality.
    2. Include same-sex marriages and relationships in questions that pertain to domestic and romantic relationships.
    3. Do not exclude same-sex parents in applicable questions.
  5. Political standing 
    1. Keep your questions politically neutral.
    2. Assure the privacy of your respondents, as politics can be a personal and sensitive matter.
    3. Do not suggest any political siding. 
  6. Reading proficiency
    1. Use reading levels and word-choice appropriate for your target demographics.
    2. Add icons whenever possible for more clarity.
  7. Economic factors
    1. Assure respondents of their privacy and anonymity.
    2. Rather than using specific quantities for salary/income info, use ranges 
  8. Culture & religion
    1. Avoid stereotyping.
    2. Bear in mind that some matters are considered taboo in some cultures and religions.
    3. Do not take a stance on any issue that pertains to a culture.
  9. Country or residence
    1. Use the appropriate language when surveying residents of different countries
    2. Use the appropriate privacy requirements as they pertain to different countries. (Ex: GDPR in the EU, for example).

Forging Ahead on Inclusion

An inclusive design approach to market research allows businesses to seize vital opportunities for business growth by making surveys more accessible and considerate to a diverse array of circumstances that different respondents face. 

Whether they face a disability or have sensibilities pertaining to their culture, it is key to create fitting surveys so that all respondents can take part without incurring any difficulty or discomfort. 

While there are several routes you can take to obtain primary research, survey research allows market researchers to be more inclusive, without giving up efficiency. Aside from catering to the hearing-impaired, surveys provide anonymity and allow researchers to ask sensitive questions

The key is to find a competent online survey platform that allows you to create inclusive design in your survey research. Such a platform streamlines market research campaigns and allows researchers to create inclusive surveys to a vast array of demographics.

Diving into the Cognitive Testing Survey to Reduce Research Bias

Diving into the Cognitive Testing Survey to Reduce Research Bias

The cognitive testing survey incorporates a critical tactic used in market research used to reduce bias. Particularly in reference to reducing bias originating in survey questions, this kind of survey allows researchers to develop questions that avoid cognitive bias and other biases.

No one is immune to biases, including researchers who form the questionnaire — the heart of a survey and its broader campaign. Given that both researchers and their respondents are prone to survey bias, researchers must find ways to eliminate the bias, and this begins with the questions themselves.   

Cognitive testing allows researchers to build better survey questions to fend off cognitive biases and thereby create more reliable and accurate campaigns.

This article explains the cognitive testing survey, its broader concept, how it improves survey research and market research at large, along with how to create one.

Defining Cognitive Testing

Cognitive testing is a method in market research used to test how comprehensible survey questions are to respondents in order to improve them. It is therefore an optimization method used so that researchers can foster effective surveys for market research campaigns. 

It should not be confused with cognitive interviewing, a practice used by the police when dealing with witnesses.

During a cognitive test, researchers probe participants on their cognitive processes during the question-answering portion to find problems with those questions. This way, researchers can form better questions for their survey studies

This kind of test is designed to improve the quality of answers by limiting cognitive bias, which is a kind of preconceived notion stemming from existing, perceived to be existing or lack of information that skews perception and leads to misconception.

However, it does not solely aim to limit cognitive bias; rather, cognitive testing helps build inclusive research design, a kind of design methodology in which researchers consider the complete scope of respondent diversity in order for respondents to complete a survey accurately and with ease

The kinds of diverse factors researchers must consider include ability, language, culture, gender, age and other differences. The goal of cognitive testing and its own survey is to make a market research survey more inclusive and minimize research bias.

Understanding the Cognitive Testing Survey

As its name suggests, the cognitive testing survey is a kind of survey designed as a tool to perform cognitive testing. A part of inclusive research design, this kind of survey seeks to weed out several issues within questions that would otherwise incur miscommunication and biases on the part of both the researcher and respondent. 

Particularly designed to improve the experience and accessibility of the respondents, this kind of survey works to avoid biases and inaccurate information from the respondents. This survey is specifically designed to avoid cognitive biases in market research, such as in other surveys themselves, but it can be applied to any form of research in which responders are questioned. 

The cognitive testing survey tests respondents questions in order to avoid the following:

  • Confusion in survey questions or answers
  • Misinterpretations of questions or answers
  • Difficulty in properly answering questions
  • Feelings of irrelevance when in fact questions touch upon relevant matters to respondents

Poised to make surveys more comprehensible, this survey type functions as more of a test on researchers’ upcoming or prospective survey studies rather than a study on consumers. It shows researchers the flaws within their own questioning and formatting. 

As such, when researchers create a cognitive testing survey, they can test questions to various campaigns and survey types. In this regard, this is one of the most thematically diverse survey types.

The Pros and Cons of the Cognitive Testing Survey

The cognitive testing survey serves as a useful test run of a survey before it is launched. However, it does not cover all bases when it comes to inclusive research design, or understanding respondent perceptions.

As such, market researchers ought to understand its advantages and limitations before running such a survey. The following lays out the various benefits and drawbacks of this kind of survey:

The Pros 

  1. It provides a direct method to understand how respondents interpret the questions and instructions you aim to use in potential surveys. 
  2. It allows you to understand the various meanings associated with your questions.
  3. It exists as a pilot test or test run, so that you avoid running several surveys.
  4. It allows you to avoid guessing which respondents answered accurately and which didn’t due to a misunderstanding. 
  5. It shows you how different respondent conditions or abilities affect respondents’ faculty in answering the questions.
  6. It is a far more proactive approach to inclusive design and avoiding biases than merely adjusting demographic questions.
  7. It helps ward off would-be biases from the respondents should the cognitive testing survey not have been run.
  8. It prepares you to create questions that are better suited to be understood by your target market. 
  9. It works to prevent respondents from answering with “don’t know” or “not sure” in future surveys.
  10. It helps form standardized questions and reliable answers.

The Cons

  1. It doesn’t tell you all of the thought processes that occur among respondents when they answer the questions.
  2. You won’t be able to see if respondents understood particular terms in the question or the question itself. 
  3. You won’t know if respondents accurately recall the kind of information needed to answer a question.
  4. It can’t relay whether respondents can fit their desired answer into the provided format or answer categories.

How to Create a Cognitive Testing Survey

Although the cognitive testing survey has its share of limitations, it can still explore the items listed under the above “cons” section. This will rely on the way that researchers frame their survey questions.

This is to say that some questions will be one-offs, while others will require follow-up questions to understand the respondents’ interpretations and opinions in greater depth

When executing a cognitive testing survey campaign, researchers can compare data produced over time by the same and different segments of a target market. 

First off, the survey questions in this type of survey are delivered via the technique known as “mode mimicking,” a method that asks questions in a mode as close to the main survey (the one you’re testing for) as possible.

This means the format of the questions and the questions themselves must be virtually identical with the survey you’re testing. If, for example, you intend your actual survey to use a Likert scale question, you should test it in the cognitive testing survey as well. 

In this survey type, it is more crucial to use advanced skip logic, that is — the automattic function wherein respondents are routed to appropriate follow-up questions based on their answers to a previous question.

This will allow researchers to understand their respondents’ comprehension and interpretations to a granular extent, so that they can perfect their surveys and avoid any cognitive biases.  

Furthermore, the cognitive testing survey naturally fosters qualitative market research, as it must also include open-ended questions so that respondents are at liberty to explain themselves. After all, the point of this survey type is to optimize the survey experience and avoid any confusion. 

There are three main techniques used in questioning the respondents in a cognition testing survey:

  1. Observation Questions: This involves questions that seek out hesitation and confusion 
    1. Particular to the cognition testing survey are requests for clarification.
    2. As such, researchers must include this as an option, unlike with most survey types that simply include a “don’t know” option.
    3. Example: An option with an open-ended answer that allows responders to explain what they don’t understand.
  2. Think Aloud Questions: This involves respondents expressing their thought processes in writing.
    1. As such, these questions must include an option for an open-ended response. They can also ask multiple-selection questions that deal with thoughts.
    2. Example: “Please explain what immediately comes to mind when you see this kind of question.”
      1. “Please explain how you think about answering this question.”
      2. “Does this question create an instant answer or does it take some time for you to answer it?”
  3. Probing Questions: These questions inquire into the way respondents perceive a particular word or phrase, the scope of time they think about when recalling information and whether they believe a question is missing any options. 
    1. These questions can be asked one after the other by way of skip logic or after the entire test questionnaire. 
    2. Example: “What do you think of when you see this word?”
      1. “What time period in your life do you think about if you were to answer the following question?”
      2. “Which phrase would make you think of a physical home?” (Multiple-choice)

Creating Inclusive and Bias-Free Market Research

In summary, the cognitive testing survey takes the concept behind cognitive testing and reimagines it as the basis of the survey. Running this kind of survey across multiple segments of a target market saves money, time, resources and the manpower required to carry out the study, analyze it and test it further.

Even the sharpest of researchers will understand that no survey will be interpreted exactly the way it is intended to or in the same way. As such, researchers should preface their survey campaigns by running the cognitive testing survey. 

This will stave off various biases, as it teaches researchers which question formats and wording to avoid, and which will be most easily and accurately interpreted by respondents. 

Given that target markets may include those with disabilities, those with particular interpretation patterns and simply those who think differently, it is key to design surveys to their favor and understanding. Doing so will ensure you foster inclusive market research along with stamping out biases. 

The key to carrying out this kind of survey is by choosing the proper online survey platform. Such a tool should make it easy and practical to run numerous surveys, test various segments of a target market, cull the information with relentless quality and retrieve results quickly.