Visit Survey is also called field visit in research. Visit Survey is one of the most valuable methods to discover unmet user needs, which sets the design direction for the project. Visit Survey is a method where the researcher visits the home or workplace of the user and studies the user’s context for behavioral, cultural, social and professional cues. Visit Survey can be conducted along with personal inventory or standalone. However, in case of personal inventory, the questions asked from the users are more related to the products they possess, whereas, in the case of visit surveys, the questions asked from the users are more about the environment of the user i.e. the relationship or interaction that the user has with their environment.
Some research teams shy away from Visit Surveys because of the assumption that the researcher involved must be an expert in anthropological studies. However, that’s not the case. Visit Surveys are easier to conduct than one would imagine. Moreover, interacting with the users during a Visit Survey has its benefits for the design project. It leads to a better understanding of the user’s context, their behavior, the personal inventory they maintain, the influence of cultural or social aspects on their context, and helps build empathy.
For conducting a Visit Survey, the researchers first recruit the potential users, and then the survey is conducted one by one for the sample group. However, if multiple users who make up the sample group work or live in the same environment then a lot of common observations lead to valuable insights for the project. In this case, Visit Survey not only makes way to determine the relationship the users have with their environment but as the relationship they have with each other or how are the users connected to their environment. For example, if most members of the sample group are members of a health club in their locality. Additionally, Visit Surveys require the researcher to probe the users on their context, which can be time-consuming when done for individual users and when trying to elicit meaningful responses from the users. The researcher must ensure that the questions asked do not lead to plain yes and no responses from the users.
Visit Surveys can be valuable for internal projects in organizations as well, where the researchers can visit different departments within the same organization studying the state of the workstations, the placement or organization of objects on the desk, the kind of digital and non-digital products the users use, among other things.
During the Visit Survey, the researcher can also develop different scenarios and probe the user about those scenarios or request them to give a guided tour to gain a better understanding of the user needs and behavior.
Advantages of Visit Survey
Visit Survey is a Human-centered approach that gives the researcher an inside peek at the kind of relationship a user has with their environment as well as the objects in the environment. It takes the user’s needs and behavior into account.
As Visit Surveys require the researchers to visit the user in their environment and probe them further to understand their context, it helps build empathy in the researcher for the user.
03 Rich Insights
The methods lend itself to get rich insights from the user on their needs, expectations, and behavior as well as on how conducive the user environment is to aid the users in performing the tasks that they must perform frequently or the tasks that may be challenging to perform.
04 Contextual Understanding
Visit Surveys give a good contextual understanding to the researcher of the sample group, which can be used to develop a meaningful design direction for the project.
Disadvantages of Visit Survey
Visit Surveys are time-consuming as they are conducted with one user at a time. Additionally, probing could take up additional time to understand the user and get valuable responses.
02 Skilled probing
Visit Surveys require a skilled researcher to ask non-yes and no questions of the users. The users sometimes are not conscious of the relationship they have with their environment or may not see something as challenging when in fact it is. It requires a well-designed question bank to probe the users and get responses that can contribute to the design specifications as intended.
Think Design recommendation
Visit Survey is a field research method where researchers scan a particular subject by visiting it. A very simple example of Visit Survey is when you want to buy a home to live in; you would go around the location, look for convenience stores around, look for amenities, survey your home itself and get a broad understanding of the situation by being there yourself. In the context of formalized research, a researcher would have a set of parameters to observe and then visits a location to observe those parameters. Generally speaking, a Visit Survey is not a fully structured exercise since there are areas that the researcher wants to probe more where are certain areas just need quick glance.
Use this method when you want to assess an environment of usage and that environment may influence usage of your product.