Starting from the study of the effects of propaganda in World War II and subsequent usage in commercial advertising in the 50s and 60s, focus groups have long been one of the main tools to evaluate the approach of consumers to novel goods and services. Grounded on the application of psychology and sociology principles, it enables to have a qualitative appraisal on a topic of study by analysing the individual and group attitudes of a cohort of users when tackling in a group dynamics situation. Whereas the study of large numbers can give researchers figures to fine tune details, focus groups excel in generating qualitative knowledge of people confronted with new approaches of products and services.
In SIMPATICO there are many such novel offerings, one key of which is the dashboard for civil servants to evaluate the functioning of the e-services (or e-Service Monitor module). Given that this is quite different to the approach that they have followed in the past and that the developers in SIMPATICO have no experience with their approach to day-to-day work, we decided to follow a focus group approach with the end-users (civil servants in charge of e-services in Xunta) with this.
We prepared a sequence of evaluations for the Galicia pilot starting in autumn 2017 and continuing for a full year. We started with hand drawn sketches of potential functionalities and user interfaces (low fidelity mock-ups) and progressed co-designing with the servants’ inputs towards more realistic ones. This was moderated by two SIMPATICO specialists following a Dual Moderator focus group approach. Approximately a dozen of Xunta’s civil servants were questioned in the sessions.
We have captured significant knowledge for the eSM module using this approach. In the coming weeks we expect to complete this research and document the results in our final project deliverables.