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# Strategy Research

Strategy research is what you do before you build. It's about generating new ideas and defining the problem. SoundingBox supports a number of approaches to doing strategy research to help you get your project going on the right footing.

SoundingBox helps you research and test what you're building. We get it. You're bringing something new and exciting to market that makes people sit up and go dang, yes, yeah!

But hold on a sec. What if the problem you're solving isn't well defined? What if you don't fully understand the questions people have about it? What if you're missing a key consideration that people make before reaching a decision? What if you fail to understand the experience that people have when trying and interacting with competitive ideas?

If you think you're in trouble you may be right. Enter strategy research. Strategy research is what you do before you build. It helps you figure out answers to questions you haven't asked. It helps you discover things you don't yet know.

Because of this mysterious quality of strategy research—getting to know the unknowns—strategy research is sometimes something teams neglect to do. It's a bit harder (or is often perceived to be) than more traditional forms of evaluative research.


There are two kinds of research in the world: generative and evaluative. Strategy research can be both, depending on what you're trying to learn, but usually it's more generative than evaluative.

# Strategy Research Compared

Some things are given with strategy research. What you find will be more nuanced than a traditional user test, for example. Don't get us wrong. We love user testing. But strategy research will require some thinking—some vision on your part as the researcher. Unlike a user test, you're not going see people get confused and not complete your task. Those findings are easy to find.

Strategy research is different from evaluative user tests. It's more open-ended. It's more exploratory. It's about figuring out things you don't yet know, to chart a course for the future!

# Kinds of Strategy Research

Thankfully we have a handful of features and templates you can deploy to help formulate and execute on your strategy research. Let's say a little bit about each one. One last note before we go into each: there's no one right way to do strategy. Any kind of strategy work you do will yield results. The only mistake you can make is to neglect it altogether.

  • Exploratory Research - The granddaddy of strategy research, exploratory research will help you generate new ideas, and figuring out what you don't yet know. We've got a template for it, and you can also learn more about exploratory research in our handy exploratory research guide.

  • Camera Journeys - Everyone's walking around these days with a high res video recorder in their pocket. SoundingBox leverages this through camera journeys. Ask people to record a short video of themselves talking through a topic or switch the camera to rear-facing and record their environment. Get started with a camera journey study template.

  • Persona Research - Designs are better when you have a profile or persona for who will use it. But who are these people really? A persona research study can help you construct realistic picture of who people are and how they live their lives.

  • Web Journeys - Journey maps are an emerging practice. They're a form of strategy. Learn more about the process in our journey mapping guide and create research to inform your journeys using our web journey study template.

  • Competitive Studies - Knowing about the competition is important. But what do you know and how do you know it? Do you know for example the kinds of experiences (good and bad) with your competitors? You could ask people directly to share their experiences in a camera task. What about how they experience the competition's web site? A competitive test can help you detect which aspects of what design on your competitors' sites are resonating most strongly. Now you've got a real foundation upon which to build your next killer design.

# Camera Tasks and Strategy

Too much research, we think, is focused on evaluation of designs. Sure, evaluation through user testing is key. But we believe failing to learn about your fellow humans before you build is akin to flying blind. Camera tasks solve for this by letting people share their thoughts and environments in their own words and on their own time. It's not about what you've made but instead about their lives. To put it another way: when you want to show people something that you've built, that's a user test. When you want to learn more about life: that's a camera task.

# Screen Tasks and Strategy

SoundingBox supports two broad kinds of tasks, each with specific variations: camera and screen tasks. Although camera tasks can be the most powerful way to learn about what you don't yet know, strategy studies don't have to include them. Competitive web tests are one form of screen task that can deeply inform your strategy. But it's not just about what features resonate. It's also about the nuances of how people feel after having interacted with a site. Those nuances can inform your strategy.

# Creating a Strategy Research Study

  1. Create an account if you haven't already. There's no credit card required and you can go through the whole process of creating a study as part of your unlimited trial.
  2. Choose from the array of strategy templates.
  3. Customize the template to your needs.
  4. Create a set of screening questions, taking care to screen out who you don't want.
  5. Choose where you'd like to source your participants. Choose SoundingBox to have us take care of it for you, or choose to do it yourself.
  6. Tell us how many people you'd like to test. Optionally configure quotas for each screening group.
  7. Review your work and publish your study.
  8. Test your study out by clicking on Preview on the Manage and Launch page.
  9. When everything looks good click on Launch to send it out to participants.