App-Based Research Is Here to Stay



Imagine conducting qualitative research in multiple cities, even countries, at the same time. Now imagine doing it for substantially less than the price of traditional, in-person research. Do we have you yet? Okay, now imagine getting your findings and recommendations weeks ahead of your current schedule!

App-based research tools were just beginning to take off when the COVID pandemic threw a wrench into just about everyone’s business. At that time, we had only used these tools on a few projects and always in conjunction with our other methods. Because our experience and client reactions were so positive, we didn’t hesitate to jump when circumstances required us to use them in lieu of in-person ethnographic research.

Now, after using app-based research tools on a variety of projects, we’re happy to report that they’re here to stay, and we know you’ll love them as much as we and our clients do!

How Does It Work?

App-based research takes traditional tools of qualitative research and integrates them into an easy-to-use smartphone application. Our team still identifies the participants, develops the research plan and activities, and oversees use of the research application. We customize each app-based inquiry to meet your project needs, and we deliver a series of tasks to participants to complete as they engage in your research.

We’ve used app-based research tools to:

  • Collect short video responses to research questions, draft/concept work, and online videos
  • Collect photos from participants’ homes and workplaces
  • Collect text diary responses
  • Drive participants to surveys
  • Allow a customer to document their journey through any experience – at home, at work, or out in the world
  • Record screens and walkthroughs while participants navigate other apps

Images collected during a home upgrade study

What Have We Used Them for?

We’ve used app-based research tools on a variety of projects. The tools have helped us uncover:

  • The planning process for a kitchen remodel
  • How to improve a phone-based online shopping experience
  • Messaging to support the use of electricity over gas in the home
  • Voters’ prioritization of issues and why
  • A day-in-the-life study of patients living with disease

Direct participants to surveys, websites, and other media

Why Should You Be Interested?

With app-based research tools, you can:

  • Extend your geographic reach without extending travel budgets
  • Reduce timelines to get quick insights
  • See and hear your customers/public through shareable video, audio, and photos
  • Gain access to your customers’ homes and workplaces to see your products in action
  • Watch people navigate your app through screen recording
  • Collect data asynchronously so you can adjust your method and questions on the fly

In addition to all these benefits, they work! We find that research apps provide the quality and depth of data and insights that we require to make confident recommendations to our clients.

What Next?

If you’d like to learn more about how we can integrate app-based research tools into your research program or use these tools in place of an in-person project, let us know, and we’ll be happy to brainstorm an opportunity and approach with you.