Online focus groups, or QualBoards, share many of the same characteristics of traditional focus groups, but take place online in a virtual room. They are interactive discussions that occur over multiple days among 12 to 20 respondents, who participate three to five times a day when it is most convenient for them.
Just like a traditional focus group, a QualBoard group starts with an agreed-upon guide. Uniquely, the questions can include a wide variety of stimuli - from websites to videos to images and more.
Based on participant responses, the QualBoard moderator can ask follow-up probe questions to the entire group, or to individuals independently. The clients can speak with each other and the moderator in a virtual back room so that all of the team’s observations and suggestions can be added into the process as it unfolds.
Because this happens over the course of several days, with respondents participating from their own environments, respondents have time to reflect on the issues, become aware of their feelings, reflect on a contrary opinion and revisit topics if additional thoughts occur. This process yields a discussion that is thoughtful, rich, multi-layered, and detailed.
One of the distinct advantages of this approach is that it does away with travel and brings the discussion straight to one’s home or office. In addition, it allows the researcher to avoid the development of “group think” in a discussion, and permits us to expand our conversation to a number of critical regions (various communities, or even multiple states) at the same time.