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How an Entrepreneur Uses Surveys for Academic & Business Research

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How an Entrepreneur Uses Surveys for Academic & Business Research

Entrepreneur Gili Golander, is the co-founder and CMO of Pinvolve. She took some time out of her busy schedule to talk with us about how SurveyMonkey has helped support her research, not just with her own business, but also as a Master’s student in the study of Human Computer Interaction (HCI).

Welcome, Gili!

“Style and fashion are really important. This is obvious to people from consumer products or haute couture. But it is not so well appreciated in the high-tech sector.” —Bill Buxton, Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research

Companies who are guided by visual design are all the rage nowadays, take Pinterest or Instagram for example, but back in 2007 when Bill Buxton wrote the above quote, it wasn’t as ubiquitous. Still, in a world saturated with ever-changing visual design, many questions about how people react to it remain.

I became particularly interested in how different people (those with a design background vs. those without one) perceive visual design trends. If I could figure this out, maybe I’d be able to provide some guidance for businesses who push their products, designed by the former group, into a world dominated by the latter.

In the summer of 2010, as part of my Master’s thesis at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, I conducted an experiment in order to measure people’s reaction to visual design trends and zeroed in on web design. I chose SurveyMonkey as my research tool for this experiment. Why?

Three reasons:

1) It was friendly and simple to use. Both for me as the researcher and for my subjects.

2) The ability to easily integrate images in the survey.

3) Exporting our results into flexible Excel format allowed me to immediately analyze the data.

The survey displayed a collection of 26 web design trends to a group of 262 people, about half of which had design background, while the other half did not.

*The subjects were asked to evaluate just how up-to-date the design trends were.

Trend Perception - Perceived up-to-dateness

They were also asked how much they liked them.

Trend Perception - Level of Liking

The results were pretty clear-cut. It turns out that there was indeed a difference between the group of non-designers and designers when it came to their reaction to web design trends. The designers had more positive attitudes towards current web design trends–they perceived them as more up-to-date and liked them more than non-current web design trends. The non-designers exhibited just the opposite behavior–they perceived the non-current trends as more up-to-date and liked them more than current web design trends. What’s the significance? Our results indicated that all people like web design trends they perceive as current, but that designers are able to identify the current web design trends better than non-designers.

When I presented the survey results, a product manager of a very successful consumer web company approached me with a smile and said, “You’ve just solved a mystery for me!” It turned out that while their designers were cranking out cutting-edge, trendy design templates for their users, the major part of their users were sticking to older design templates, and they couldn’t figure out why. Understanding that there’s a difference in people’s visual trend perceptions helped this company come to some important design conclusions.

I soon learned this for myself after starting my own company, Bazaart.

Bazaart

 

 

Our startup has developed a mobile app that lets our users create beautiful photo collages. Armed with the knowledge gained from our SurveyMonkey research, we make sure that Bazaart is designed in a way that would appeal to as many users as possible, by combining both innovation and familiarity.

For example, we do our best to innovate in all things pertaining to photo editing–think Photoshop on your mobile–while at the same time keeping the navigation and social facets of the app as close as possible to what people have grown to know and love. As a result, we have a very wide range of age and geographic location demographics in Bazaart–from three-year-old kids to “non-techie” women aged 60+. Our users are located in the United States, Russia, Brazil, and all over the world.

With SurveyMonkey’s help, I was able to efficiently conduct a very visual experiment, which led to an award-winning academic paper, and most importantly, to a better understanding of how people react to visual design trends and how businesses can continue to build better products.

*Gili’s thesis, “Trends in Website Design”, was originally published in THCI–an international scholarly journal on HCI–and can be accessed here.

To learn even more about Bazaart or Pinvolve, be sure to visit their pages and let Gili know if you have any questions or comments below!

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One thought on “How an Entrepreneur Uses Surveys for Academic & Business Research

  1. Gili Golander says:

    Thanks for the opportunity to guest post, SurveyMonkey!
    For those interested, the academic paper mentioned in the post is available at http://aisel.aisnet.org/thci/vol4/iss3/1

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