Take yourself back 10 – 20 years ago. You are a researcher. Maybe you work for a university. Maybe you work for a company. You’ve been tasked with gathering a specific set of answers from a specific group of people. What do you do?
Before the Internet, you probably created questionnaires and collected answers by mail, phone, and by hiring teenagers with clipboards to bug people at the mall. You may have even gathered a good set of data from all of this information.
Now, contrast that with what is available when you move your research project online:
Target a specific subset
Say you need to target Hispanic women aged 24-26 with one child living five miles outside of urban centers in New Jersey for your research project. How would you do that? In the past, you would either send information gatherers to those areas or target phone numbers in those area codes. Now, there are a variety of tools that allow you to target your message to that specific audience. Your initial message seeking participants can be targeted and further vetting can occur when that person completes the research project registration form.
Online forms simplify the information gathering process in a variety of ways. First, all answers are collected in a central location. Second, upon completion of a form, the responses can be emailed to a specific researcher or set of administrators. And third, media such as photos, videos, and slideshows can be used in these forms.
Participant answers gathered through the forms can be viewed, analyzed, and exported immediately. But user analytics can provide even more information that you could never gather using a paper form. For example, how long did participants take with each question? If you included a video before another question, did participants actually watch the video? And for how long? How many different devices did the participant use throughout the entire research project? These are just a few of the questions that can be answered and analyzed through more advanced user analytics.
Any device, any time
Traditionally, information needed to be gathered at a specific time and at a specific location. This could have happened through a focus group, someone asking questions to shoppers at the mall, or through a phone call. By placing your research project online and by using the latest in website technology, your research project can be completed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and on any device (phone, tablet, laptop, desktop, etc.)
Another benefit to using a website for your research project is that you can change course at any point. Perhaps you are 15% of your way into the research project and you realize that users are having trouble with the wording of a section of the questions. In the past, you probably just had to proceed with the printed pages you have. With an online research project, you can easily change course, update a question, eliminate a section, or make any other real-time change to better gather the accurate information.
So, the answer to the question posed in the title of this post is an emphatic yes. You should consider having a website to house both sides of your research project:
- The information gathering side
- The presentation of your findings
The information gathering side can be hidden behind a registration form and login area so that only vetted applicants can participate. The presentation of your findings can be added in a beautiful layout and targeted towards funding organizations, other researchers, or the general public.