Where did all the quallies go?

In getting ready to launch this  journal site I’ve been surfing around to find similar sites.  Although I have found some neat blogs created by web expert types, I’ve found very little on qualitative research.  I was hoping to find the equivalent of one of those anonymous-policemen type blogs which expose the raw underbelly of the job but there is surprisingly little.  There may be a little more that I simply can’t unearth, but at first glance it feels that there are genuinely few people writing about this.  The people I have found, I mostly know already. 

This may be down to fear of compromising commercial confidentiality or it might simply be that commercial qual researchers are too damned busy to write about their lives. 

Adding Web 2.0 widgets

I’ve been writing a personal blog for several years, and now seems like a good time to extend that approach to my consultancy work. 

In the last couple of projects I’ve been involved with, there has been much talk of researching users’ attitudes to Web 2.0 style add-ons.   This is proving tricky, for several reasons.

  1. Some sites that worry about Web 2.0 should really be focusing on getting the core services right.  If people can’t do the main thing that they came to do, no amount of ability to add their own review is going to help that.
  2. Participation remains a niche interest.  There are certainly many more people doing it than ever there were before, but probing interest in Web 2.0 functions tends to result in one of those consumer conversations about how it’s probably really interesting for weirdoes and geeks, but the present respondent has a life, thank you very much.
  3. This goes double for people interviewed in their work roles, where reading a blog is right down there next to watching Hollyoaks as a deeply suspicious way for a grown person to occupy their time.

On the other hand, if you introduce something that solves the users’ problems, woos the casual browser and feels great, then you’re onto something. 

Personally, I think Amazon are the leaders when it comes to user participation.  They know that only a small proportion of people will write the well-expressed product reviews or amusing book lists, but they know that lots and lots of people will read them, and find them helpful. 

The thing that does this on your site may not be very obvious.   You may not need user-generated content at all: but thinking through the ways that someone might want to customise your site should help you work out just what sorts of functions, if any, are worth spending time on.