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In today’s article, Intercept Field Study and Best Practices, we will discuss how you can conduct your own intercept field study, including tips on how you can get the best out of this field research method.

This article will also cover the following areas:

What is an intercept field study?

The intercept field research is a type of usability testing that can be done almost anywhere. This field study does not require you to recruit your participants in advance. But instead, you can simply approach them in public spaces.

Additionally, compared to other usability studies, the intercept field research is done informally and is shorter in length, which usually lasts around 15 minutes. 

When it comes to compensation, this kind of field study provides less compensation because it only requires a shorter time commitment. 

For UX researchers, this type of field study can come in handy since it is straightforward and quick to conduct.

You do not need any additional instructions for your participants, as long as the participants are skilled enough to participate in the study. 

In short, the intercept field research is a usability study that is defined as the usual, classic question and answer system.

The intercept field research falls under surveys, which is considered to be an effective method in gathering a considerable number of responses and considered to be a cheaper way of collecting data. 

Depending on the research objectives, you can use the intercept interviews format or the method where you can conduct the survey about the product on a different platform. 

The intercept format allows you to track performance metrics such as generating yearly trends or collecting workflows or page flows data, like when the user engages with the interface. All these metrics can be tracked using the intercept survey format. 

The intercept field method of asking participants questions within the product environment in real-time can ensure that the data is accurate in terms of user experience. 


What is the purpose of intercept testing?

The method of intercept interviews testing is about understanding the challenges and thoughts that users experience when it comes to using the product or service. 

This method of testing is the same as any usability testing but at a cheaper and faster pace.


The advantages of conducting intercept field studies

One of the main advantages of executing an intercept interviews study is UX researchers can collect insights and data that can be very helpful in the company’s user research design and marketing campaign. 

The assigned interviewers should have the skills to select their respondents by stopping them in public places to get them to do short surveys using a laptop or a piece of paper and pen. Conducting interviews can be about consumer behaviors, habits, preferences, or perceptions. 

Here are several benefits of using the intercept surveys in your research:

Receive real-time responses

As we have discussed, the intercept field research is a type of usability research that allows you to gather real-time data. One of the best ways to conduct this is through surveys, where you can gather instant responses from people you see in public places. 

You may add open-ended questions to take advantage of the responses from the people you survey. This way, you can dig deeper and get some clarifications from your respondent’s answers. 

Respondents can also seek explanations from you during the survey process. 

Researchers can also observe the participants’ reactions and behaviors in real-time. This is useful for collecting feedback on user behavior surveys like how users interact with your product, site, or application.

Target various demographics

Another advantage when it comes to conducting an intercept field research is it allows you to reach out to people who are not part of the research panels.

When conducting surveys in physical locations or even online, you can reach various demographics that can be very helpful in providing you different insights in a short amount of time. 

A cost-efficient method

Since you only need a laptop or a pen and paper, this field studies is very low cost compared to other usability methods. 

Another advantage of conducting intercept field research is you do not have to offer a large compensation in exchange for complete insight. 

Often, you can simply give a small token of appreciation like a discount coupon for people who would like to participate or who have an interest in the intercept field research.


How to conduct an intercept usability study

Planning stage

While an intercept study is very simple and fast to do, you still need to plan your actions ahead of the scheduled research project date. 

In order to properly create your project study, you will need the following:

  • A prototype or live service.
  • Backups. In case your prototype will require the Internet, power, or any specific software or tool to function. Make sure you always have backups to avoid any interruptions in your field locations.
  • Goals and tasks. These are intended for your users. Prepare a lot of simple tasks similar to what you would do in a formal usability test. Watch your time schedule and length, as the intercept study should be done in a short period of time only.
  • Pick the right venue or location. While this type of usability test does not require to recruited your participants formally, it is still better that you pick a venue/location to create your usability research. Like for example, survey tests for students or teachers would be ideal within schools or universities. Also, consider going to multiple locations so you can have diverse demographics for your study.

Testing stage

In the beginning, Ensure that you contact and coordinate with a location manager or a location supervisor for any required permits before conducting your intercept surveys. Never show up announced. 

Once you have managed all necessary permits or written permission in setting up your testing location, you are now ready for your intercept field research.

During the test, remember the following notes:

  • Group size. It can be intimidating for other participants to agree with you to take the test when there are many people at the testing location. To resolve this, keep your participants to 3 people at a time. Do not forget to also bring with you in person in a location that can take notes during the testing period.
  • Dress code. Take note that the way you dress also affects how people perceive you. You can mirror the formality or the way your participants would dress. This is an excellent trick to show your target participants how approvable you are. It will make them feel part of the group or team, and you may likely get a lot of insights through them.
  • Body language. Be confident. Most people have a sense of body language, even when they are unaware of it. Your participants can pick up your body language, and if they can sense that you are lacking confidence, this behavior can affect the way they interact with you. Always be confident and show your participants that you are not wasting their time.
  • Master your pitch. Along with the display of confidence, you should also master how you pitch the study to the people you will approach. You need to clearly introduce your role, why you are here, and what the test is about. Include the amount of time and any other information or additional resources that your participants should know or determine about. 
  • Introductions. Introduce all the people in your team involved in your study if you have people taking notes or people who will observe, then introduce them appropriately to potential users.
  • Avoid interrupts. Avoid any interruptions as much as possible. Sometimes, it can be tempting to jump in right away when the participant is overwhelmed or confused with the test. Instead, you can take this opportunity to observe and take notes. You can ask yourself why the participant is confused. Also, avoid giving instructions, especially on how the service or product should work. Remember, your team is conducting this project test to determine about your product or service, not your participant. 
  • Feedbacks. Do not record while observing your participants. Instead, bring someone who would take notes and record all the feedbacks while you focus on observing on location. 
  • Pay attention. Always pay attention to your participants, especially on how they feel. You should monitor the visual and verbal cues of your participants. And if you detect any uneasiness on their part, address them and understand why. If this situation continues, then decide if it is best to stop the session. 


Additional takeaways: best practices 

Be friendly

Do not forget to smile. We recommend that you always smile. Showing that you can be a person who is approachable and friendly can make a difference in how the participants interact with you. 

Besides, nobody wants to take the survey with someone who does not seem friendly or is with no interest. 

Being friendly, on the other hand, has its perks. For one, it is found out that friendly interviewers are the most productive. Being friendly allows to build a quick rapport and obtain quality data from its participants. 

Another benefit to being a friendly interviewer is it leaves the participants with a more positive view of the product or service.

Approach your respondent

It is essential for the interviewer to be proactive and keeps on moving. If you stay seated, hoping somebody is going to approach you to answer and complete your survey, the fieldwork could take longer, and the responses will not be that productive. 

Be honest

Always be honest and realistic with your users. For example, openly say the time it will take them to complete the entire survey or interview. 

If you will say that the timeframe is 1 minute, but after 10 minutes later, your users are still answering several questions, they can quickly leave and walk away. This will result in a painful experience. 

Thus, it is very important to be honest with everything, especially the time your respondents will have to take when completing the survey. 

Work with an experienced intercept field researcher

When it comes to conducting field interviews, it is a better strategy to work with someone who is experienced in performing intercept field research. 

If you are just starting as a UX researcher, you can benefit from working with an experienced researcher.

Your team can quickly build rapport with the users when it comes to getting detailed and valuable insights. 


Conclusion

The intercept field research is one of the most manageable usability studies. However, like any other research study, this also requires some planning and organization.

If you are new to field studies, it is best to check the best practices in conducting intercept surveys. 

For starters, this article is a good reference for conducting your own field research. 

You can learn so many insights with surveys. However, remember the best practices suggested here to have minimal mistakes, and you can achieve desired results that you can utilize for your site, product or service.

Mary Ann Dalangin

About the author

A content marketing strategist and a UX writer with years of experience in the digital marketing industry.

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