What is a focus group?

Usability can be a somewhat fuzzy concept. It has become a buzzword that people use but have difficulty defining. Usability tests, or user tests, cover a wide range of analytical methods - methods to gain insight into your users' needs, and the way they interact with your product. In this blog post, I’ll try to give you a bit of insight into how you can use focus groups to create more value for your business and your customers.

The Focus Group

A focus group interview is a tool used in conducting qualitative research, where a moderator manages a small group of people, often 6 to 12, through a chosen topic and multiple questions. The purpose is to uncover customer segments' attitudes, prejudices, and habits towards a specific topic. Within the field of usability, focus groups are a highly suitable method of analysis that can uncover your target audience's immediate response and open up to hidden emotions, motives, and attitudes – all of which form the basis of customer segment choices.


How does it create value?

Focus groups are the ideal user test if you want to examine your target group's assessment of a given product or marketing concept. At an overall level, you can gain insights that can help you understand what your target audience expects from your company's website, and what needs they have in certain situations. It can help your company make the right decisions when it comes to design, development, and marketing. And – it gives you the opportunity to develop a solution that users actually find relevant, functional, and engaging.

Depending on the topic, the method can produce a lot of different results. I have previously created multiple concept tests with focus groups for eg. a large Danish union. The test was carried out in collaboration with representative users from the organization; both volunteers, working for the union, and members.

In addition to group discussions, which most often was based on questions such as "How do you perceive yourself as a member of this association?" and "What needs do you have when you use the website?", we ended up discussing how different mood photos matched the organization's brand. I also facilitated a card game, where we prioritized different content on the page, in order to 1) optimize navigation and findability 2) to discuss core content on the site in an informal way.

All of the above gave the organization insight into how they should prioritize their content on their platform. One of the most prominent user needs was an event calendar on the front page. At the same time, there was a desire to be able to sort out results in their search function, as many had difficulty understanding which search results were events or articles, and which were meeting summaries or records.


Unique insights

A focus group interview is dynamic and exploratory. It will uncover contrasts in your target group's attitudes and the background for their decision-making processes and patterns of action. No matter what phase you are in, this is a valuable insight. You are more than welcome to contact me if you want to know, how a focus group can be useful in your business.


Nanna Gelineck 
Senior Insights Consultant