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A Guide to Conducting Unmoderated Generative Research

A Guide to Conducting Unmoderated Generative Research


In this guide, we’ll cover how UX researchers can conduct unmoderated generative research that unearths new ideas and insights.

What is generative research?

  1. Need larger sample sizes: When a problem requires a larger audience, remote testing allows companies to recruit a greater number of participants. Since moderation isn’t needed, it’s also easier to achieve larger sample sizes with fewer resources.
  2. New products: Unmet needs are the seeds of innovation. With unmoderated generative research, companies can identify opportunities that wouldn’t have surfaced through traditional methods like IDIs and focus groups.
  3. Iterative design: Updating existing products is a time-intensive and costly affair, so companies must leverage a research method that gives them a true pulse of how well a product will do in the real world before a release.
  4. New market research: Businesses change and grow — and with that, they often find themselves scoping out new markets. Unmoderated research is easier to conduct remotely, which in turn facilitates the exploration of new markets.
  5. Limited budget: Traditional observational research methods were often only utilized by larger organizations due to the cost, time, and heavy resource requirements. Remote user research platforms make observational research less restrictive, opening up the method to mid-sized and small businesses.
  6. Tight deadlines: Unmoderated generative research is a faster way to collect insights when time is of the essence.
A step-by-step guide for conducting generative user research

Conducting unmoderated generative research

Step 1: Define research objectives and goals

Prior to launching the research, it is important to define objectives, questions, and goals. Generative research can be incredibly insightful, but it can also produce a lot of information. The key to great generative research is making sure it’s focused. Through defined objectives, goals, and questions, you will have the outline to a plan that will deliver the insights you are seeking.

Step 2: Recruit participant

After laying the foundation of your generative study, you can begin recruiting participants that represent your target audience. Participants can be recruited through internal databases or outside panels. If you have a hard-to-reach audience, it may be best to use a qualitative recruitment company. They will be able to find your exact target market while giving you the peace of mind that you’ll have high-quality participants.

Step 3: Mobile Pre-Tasking

Before diving into the research, you should consider doing some pre-tasks. Pre-tasks allow researchers to get to know their participants and start building rapport before the study starts. Mobile pre-tasks involve assigning participants tasks that they complete through an app on their phone. This allows researchers to collect background data from participants to inform the design of the upcoming study. These tasks will also get respondents primed for the main study by making them more comfortable and familiar with the research method.

Pre-tasks can contain multiple choice questions, written statements, elicit video or audio responses, and much more. The added advantage is that this data will be logged and recorded giving you a wealth of information before the core research even begins.

Step 4: Launch your generative research study

Launching the study is relatively easy compared to IDIs and focus groups because you don’t need to do as much coordinating with the participants. And since it’s unmoderated, you have the flexibility of reviewing data whenever your schedule allows.

Since you will be observing participants going about their everyday lives you will be able to monitor natural behaviors and patterns of use. This gives UX teams an unfiltered look into how well designs align with real-world needs, and in turn what needs are not currently being met.