Are You Listening?

An exploratory design research sprint across India and the UK

Sometimes we are asked to work on relatively short sprint design research projects. On one such occasion, a client invited us to deliver an eight-week project examining a type of observed behaviour. Particularly, this involved individuals who listened to audiobooks, podcasts and everything in between. Our client’s internal researchers had noticed an unusual type of listening behaviour, prevalent across their India and UK-based users. They were keen to learn and understand more about these users. Something a purely quantitative approach could not accomplish alone.

This called for a deep dive ethnographic design research project. They had turned to us to help them uncover (and better understand) the particular needs, content preferences, moments of listening and tools that defined this type of user’s listening habit. Ultimately, through gaining a deeper understanding of these behaviours they hoped to be able to enhance this group’s listening experience. This is the kind of foundational research that we love to do.

Working with a Reach Network Design Research Project Partner

After an initial kick-off meeting, we worked in sync with our client and our partner agency, Quicksand, to finalise designing the research. Both STBY and Quicksand are part of the Reach Network. Consequently, we have access to researchers with local knowledge who can seamlessly translate any research approach and materials to and from local contexts at each stage. For this project, local tailoring started during the recruitment process. In line with our interpretation of the client’s brief, we quickly recruited suitable participants in the UK and India. Moreover, with weekly sync calls, the client was involved in conversations with us throughout the project. Giving clients access, helps them take ownership of the project. Crucially, this enables them to confidently continue to use and refer back to the findings beyond the end of the project.

A Small Design Research Project Sprint

Throughout this project, we worked closely with Quicksand, with the client observing. In this way, we conducted a series of online individual 1-on-1 in-depth interviews. Methodologically, we investigated these users. We probed their interests and behaviours to identify insights and opportunities. During the analysis stage, our combined team viewed and sorted through the results with a deep understanding of regional cultures and nuances in mind. Then we mapped six typical listening experiences to help our client produce relevant and meaningful content to cater for the needs of this particular group of listeners. We were also able to identify three possible applications for the results. Significantly, by being involved transparently throughout the project, we empowered our client to feel able to talk internally from a position of knowledge about this group of listeners and know what type of content is likely to work in developing and supporting their particular listening behaviour.

The Result

Finally, as we wrapped up the project, we produced a report with multiple post-project uses. It was for the client’s benefit: to use with their varied internal stakeholders. It established the core needs and behaviours of the listeners we were researching and left our client with a more in-depth understanding of the behaviours and identifying drivers related to this unique subset of listeners.