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Friday, May 15 • 10:15am - 11:00am
Modern Day Attitudinal Tracking: How to use a Mood Meter to get real-time moments of truth during Think-Aloud Protocol

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As an innovative user experience research firm, we’re always looking for ways to quantify user emotions and experience in real time.  After countless studies we’ve figured out a unique way to dig inside our participant’s hearts and minds to achieve honest feedback that may not always be apparent in verbal format. We asked ourselves, “How are they feeling while interacting with our subject devices/platforms?” And is it always the best method to summarize a group of emotions after the completion of a task or activity? There must be a more straightforward approach to analyzing the peaks and valleys of user experiences throughout studies.

As a result of these ideas, the concept of a Mood Meter began while brainstorming before an out-of-box experience study for a major electronics client. The client was particularly interested in classifying remorse cases and insights to the individual and varried stages of interactions with the product. More importantly, the client desired to understand the subtle inflections of the participant’s mood and how that may or may not affect the overall perception of the device. To gather this insight it would require a tailored approach to monitoring gradual changes in a users’ mood. Establishing an emotional connection from one step to the next was critical. We wanted to measure the emotional journey of interacting with this product beyond a standard Likert scale and review questions “after” completing a task.

We wanted and needed to understand these nuances and identify the root cause for an uptick or downturn in user experience during the initial stages of interaction with the packaging, the device itself and introductory steps. As researchers, we felt it was necessary to strive to better understand where these pain-points actually occur and allow for the users to dictate this to us in real-time.

In user research, we strive to understand the customer’s mental journey. With the Mood Meter, we’re getting close to that by setting the standard with real-time attitudinal tracking. How did we do it? Participants were informed that they had just purchased a new device and were starting their journey at a “Mood-Level” of 10. Upon being given task instructions, we asked users to interact with the Mood Meter as frequently as they felt necessary. This gave us the ability to track real-time behavior by monitoring and instantly tracking where negative/positive touch points occurred.  Participants were encouraged to simply “click up or down” on the device and they encountered positive and negative stimulants. This eliminated the need for users to recall an entire task worth of experiences and summarize it with one general score.  Becoming hypersensitive to the subtle nuances of packaging, instruction manuals and the user interface allows participants to communicate their feelings on a measurable and quantifiable scale. Adding to the gamification of the research, this new method allows for moderators to probe about specific situations at exactly the right time minimizing the interruption of user’s experience with the device.  Video recording and screen sharing the sessions can be confusing for clients to follow, now stakeholders are able to easily follow along in remote settings by keeping track while the Mood Meter changes. This is real-time experiential measurement.

This research tool has allowed what was a researcher’s worst fear, a quiet and introverted subject,  into a scenario where users participating in a research study to are able to call attention to the way they are experiencing a product.  Researchers are not the only ones that benefit from this new dimension to conducting think-aloud protocol. The convenience of the Mood Meter gives subjects the option of sharing their journey by eliminating the requirement to verbalize how they feel/perceive the product/interface and what the impact is in that specific moment in time while allowing for clients to easily quantify pain-points along the user’s journey.

The beauty of introducing the Mood Meter to user research is that we can pinpoint where the “mood swings”, high and low points, occur and gather data over the course of the entire experience, which gives our client some pretty compelling insights. We create a task-by-task analysis that captures real-time behavioral data versus casual observation. The added value of the Mood Meter is the elimination of guesswork and observational data. We no longer need to assume when it’s a good time to interrupt a participant’s thoughts and begin a more directed discussion. By watching our participant interact with the Mood Meter, we can easily explore the drivers for that emotional shift and find our opening to start probing. It’s a real-time perspective with immediate insight, and that’s powerful.

The Mood Meter has become a vital tool for our ethnographic and task-based behavioral research. We’re confident this tool and sound reporting tactics will make great strides for user experience research and ultimately the clients we serve. We will continue to explore the Mood Meter research tool and tweak its design to improve user engagement. A more targeted, quantifiable understanding of our users will only benefit our clients and the UX research community as we continue to optimize the experience.

avatar for Rick Damaso

Rick Damaso

User Experience Researcher, Key Lime Interactive
Hi there :) They say, those who choose a job they love never work a day in their life... I couldn't agree more. I've conducted research on 3 different continents, worked with some of the worlds iconic brands, and empowered brilliant teams to improve their customers' experiences... Read More →
avatar for Jonathan Knopf

Jonathan Knopf

Senior User Researcher, Key Lime Interactive
Senior Researcher with a strong background in User Experience (UX), Human Computer Interfaces (HCI), Human Factors Engineering (HFE), and Games User Research (GUR). Diverse technical background with medical devices, multiple programming languages, and mobile/web development processes... Read More →

Ania Rodriguez

CEO & Founder, Key Lime Interactive

Friday May 15, 2015 10:15am - 11:00am EDT
Back Bay C/D

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