Observe your customers in their natural environment.

When creating and testing a product, it’s crucial to understand the needs of the intended customers: what type of environment will they be using this in, how do they conduct tasks and what tools do they currently use to accomplish their goals?

Customers’ workspaces or homes can reveal a great deal about the context a product will operate within, as well as how they actually use the product. In order to observe people’s natural behaviors, it is necessary to conduct research in their “natural habitat,” rather than in a lab. This type of research is called Field Study.

With a field study, you gain a holistic view about how your customers behave in the “real world,” instead of watching them perform a specified set of activities in a controlled setup or listening to them tell you what they think they would do in reality.

Our approach to field studies

Field studies can take place in a variety of locations, including users’ homes or offices, or in a store.


ONE: We start by working with you to understand your research objectives, identify your target audience, identify location(s) to conduct research and determine which topics will be covered in the study.

TWO: Your assigned research team will then develop a test plan, which includes the moderator questions that will be used and/or metrics to track to ensure all necessary feedback is gathered during observation. In some instances, a field study can be less structured, consisting mostly of observation.

THREE: Usability Sciences’ in-house recruiting team will screen and schedule participants who meet your target audience. In some instances, participant recruitment is done in real time in the field, such as at a store.

FOUR: One-on-one interview sessions vary greatly in length and are dependent on the environment in which the sessions occur. Sessions are generally conducted over several consecutive days. During the sessions, participants are asked questions about how they conduct specific tasks or use a product, as well as their goals, needs and frustrations within this defined domain.

FIVE: After the interviews are complete, the results are analyzed and compiled into a report, which contains observations about common user needs and various environmental factors.

What to expect from a field study

Conceptualizing and designing a product within a vacuum, without any consideration of the target audience’s needs, is a risky business approach. Misjudging what customers want or prefer can result in costly changes.

Field studies can provide the opportunity to examine real customers working in their usual surroundings, so you can design your product based on concrete observations instead of guesses, as well as confirm whether your product meets customers’ needs.

The field study method is especially ideal for researching “real-world” mobile device usage, since a realistic environment is difficult to replicate in a lab.

Observations obtain from a field study can also help you answer the following questions:

  • How can your product solve unanticipated challenges revealed during the study?
  • How can you improve the product experience for current customers?
  • Is my customer experience helping or hurting my customers?

Ready to get started?

Contact us for a preliminary consultation

The issues that will impact your business’s future are out there. Let us help you identify them and guide you and your team to the solutions and insights you need to overcome them. Contact our team today.