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UX Design Process: 8 out of 21

Focus groups

One of the most important marketing tools for researching user needs.

Stage 2: User Research — Focus groups
Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash

A focus group or focused group interview is a qualitative research method where 5 to 10 respondents talk about a topic given by a moderator interviewer.

The interviewer-moderator has a pre-designed script (guide) that he uses in a group discussion. The process of creating a guide is very similar to what we do for user interviews.

A focused group interview differs from a user interview in that all communication takes place between the participants, and the moderator only sets the topic and directs the conversation in the right direction.

The purpose of the focus group

This method allows you to find out the values and motivation of the respondents, as well as see how they pose or perceive the problem you proposed for discussion. In other words, we need to find out the opinions of each of the participants.

Value for the team

It will allow revealing insights during the discussion of the respondents among themselves on the question asked. The data obtained is difficult to obtain in an interview with a single user, since information important to us only comes to light during the discussion.

Value for business

Allows you to define attitudes, beliefs, desires, and reactions to a product or service.


  • Preparation: up to 6 hours
  • Main activity: from 2 to 4 hours

Creating process:

A professionally conducted focused group interview provides a lot of data for analysis, but there is also a big disadvantage of this approach since there is a high chance that respondents will influence a friend, and prevent them from sharing valuable opinions or feedback with a moderator interviewer.

This can happen because there will be a respondent in the group who will impose his opinions and values on others, and all other respondents will agree.

Step 1. Decide on the type of focus group and goals

You must understand what goals you set, and based on this, select the group of respondents that is right for you.

The following types of focus group interviews are distinguished: two-way focus group, dual moderator focus group, dueling moderator focus group (fencing-moderator), respondent moderator focus group, client participant focus groups, mini focus groups, teleconference focus groups, creativity groups, band obsessive group, online focus groups, phone or web focus groups.

Recommendation: You can read more about all types of focus groups on the Wikipedia website in the Focus group article.

Step 2. Search for respondents

You can use the same methods of finding respondents as you would for user interviews.

Step 3. Make a list of questions

Again, the principle of writing a script (guide) is the same. You must correctly compose open-ended questions to ask them to the respondents and thus start the discussion.

Step 4. Start the interview

Introduce yourself and explain to the respondents why you have gathered them, what is the interview plan, and introduce them to each other. In other words, create the most comfortable conditions for them.

Recommendation: each respondent should feel that he is not limited in time for expressing his thoughts, and should also feel the attention to himself.

Step 5. Record the conversation

Give prior notice and obtain permission from respondents to record their conversations.

Step 6. Analyze the data

For data analysis, I recommend using the Affinity mapping method or its other name — Affinity diagramming.

Affinity diagramming is an amazing technique that will help you turn a lot of qualitative data (for example, after an interview) into insights.

Step 7. Make a report in any form for the team and stakeholders

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