Research Synthesis Design Solution

Focus Group Feedback 05


05 Focus Group Feedback

Download the summary presentation of our focus group feedback.

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Our focus group participants were three males between the ages of 24 and 30 years. Their background was varied but all three fit into the young modern category as we had defined it (young professionals with disposable income). Our users were as follows:

  • U1 - Design professional, male, 26 years old
  • U2 - Law student, male, 28 years old
  • U3 - Web programmer, male, 26 years old

There were several commonalities between the participants with respect to music listening habits and music player usage. All participants had large music collections (1000's of CD's), with almost all of their music in digital format. Unequivocally participants indicated using shuffle to select their music to put on a long set of music at a time as opposed to selecting individual songs.

Group atmosphere

Although our participants were all males, because two of our group members are female the overall group felt more evenly mixed than if the room had been entirely males. All of our focus group participants were strangers to each other which reduced the conformity effects (pressure to agree with each other) that can occur among groups of friends.

Scenario-based feedback

During the focus group, we presented each scenario A-E to our participants first reading the scenario prompt and then following up with discussion lead questions. Our participants had strong reactions to the scenarios presented both in good and bad ways.

Need: Music throughout the house

Ubiquity was a big deal. The participants in our focus group cared about having music in every room of their house or apartment. In addition they wanted that music to follow them between rooms. One user even recounted that in their previous apartment he would carry two remotes with him, one for the roomhe was leaving and one for the room he was about to enter. In between rooms he would turn off the stereo from the room he was leaving and turn on the stereo for the room he was entering. The key feedback we got here was that music listening be uninterrupted as they moved around the home.

“more important to be everywhere than to be quality” – U1

“I like the music to be where I am” – U2

In addition, the participants wanted control of the current room they were in. We were initially concerned that they would want control in one place of the different rooms in the house. But users reported that they only wanted to be able to control their current room.

“I want to be downstairs controlling the stuff downstairs” – U3

“My girlfriend will be upstairs on a PC and I’ll be downstairs listening to something else” – U3

Need: Activity based music

First participants said their music selection was based on their mood rather than what they were currently doing.

“not as much activity based as mood based” – U3

But as they discussed the fact that their music selection was based on the mood of the music, the examples they provided indicated that it was in fact the activity that dictated what mood of music they selected.

“When I’m going to get shit-faced I want something with a beat” – U2

“If I’m working on my kitchen I’ll put on some rock, but if I’m taking a bath I’ll put on some Enya” – U3

Finally they discussed the fact that depending on the time of day they would choose different things to listen to, and that different moods of music were appropriate for certain times of day. However, the times of day were also closely tied with activity and suggested a certain mood of music.

“I’m more cerebral in the morning and more sensual at night” – U1

Thus the final conclusion we drew from this discussion was that the mood was central in selecting music whether it be appropriate for a certain type of day or activity.

Need: Please your guests

Because our user demographic often had guests over to their home and were concerned about choosing appropriate music for guests, we wanted to explore the issue of guest access. One side of this coin was the "taste blender" which catered to everyone's tastes,

However, our participants indicating wanting full control over music for guests:

“It’s my freakin’ house. I want to pick the music” – U1

“I’m too picky, I want complete control” – U3

“I already have a taste blender – Radiohead” – U1

At the same time one participant indicated wanting to share music with their friends to stay updated on good new music:

“I like the idea that friends can share music with me and learn about new artists that people like” – U3

And the participants even had good ideas for guest interaction with the music, like voting for songs:

“…you could vote songs off the island!” – U1

Need: Wearable remote control

The issue of anywhere control came up in our user research. We explored this idea in our focus group by presenting users with our concept for a wearable remote control ring. This issue was met with both positive and negative reactions. On the one hand the participants liked not having to look for remote:

“I wish I could glare at the stereo to change it” – U1

“If there’s a remote its going to get lost” – U2

“I wish I could train my cat to do it” – U3

But on the other hand the participants indicated adamantly that they didn’t want to wear the remote:

“I’m not MacGyver, I want my watch to tell time and look good” – U2

“If you’re so lazy that you need the remote attached to your body you don’t deserve to listen to music” – U2

There was some positive reaction to the wearable remote when the participants considered situations where their hands might be occupied, for example during a date. Here they were concerned about killing the mood if they weren't able to change the music:

“What if your hands aren’t free but the shitty song of the album comes on” – U1

However the overwhelming consensus was that wearing the remote was a bad thing, and that something as small as a ring would easily get lost.

Need: Display anywhere

To explore the need of access everywhere in the house we presented a scenario with a projected display. The participant responses showed little enthusiasm for display:

“It’s not mission critical to know the name of the song” – U1

“I don’t need to see the display” – U2

“You can already do this with an iPod FM Tuner” – U3

And there was serious concern about the aesthetics of any large displays, particularly projected displays:

“I think it would be ugly” – U2

“A toy would be cool but it has to look good” – U2

After some discussion on the topic they reasoned that song information was only important for guests who might want to learn about your music collection:

“Central display would be good to provide info about what’s playing for guests” – U3

Need: Guest Access

The other side of the guest music issue was a controller that gave guests limited access to the music system. This idea was met with enthusiasm from our focus group participants. They reported their guests often caused problems if they tried to change music, and that they didn't like people to mess with their system especially under "party conditions" i.e. while drinking. The quotes below illustrate this general feeling:

“My brother messes up my settings” – U2

“I don’t want anyone spilling beer on my laptop” – U3

“If we could just give them track and volume it would be great” – U1

The participants also thought our guest cards would be fun at a party and could add an interesting social dynamic. They even began planning how they would use the cards:

“I’d only leave a couple out and make them wrestle for it” – U3

“have a central display like the ticking projection clock with the name of the song” – U1

Need: Synthetic DJ

Because our user needs analysis showed that our target demographic had large music collections and often used shuffle to play music, we wanted to explore the idea of a synthetic DJ that would select music for you.

Our focus group participants really liked the idea of a Synthetic DJ:

“I want a robotic DJ because I don’t have time to adjust things during the party” – U1

“the iTunes party mix but with Mood knowledge” – U3

“One song is bad … 20 minute span mixed live” – U1

At the same time, trusting the AI for this kind of DJ was a big issue:

“If I’m going to surrender control it has to be good” – U2

And so they wanted to give feedback to the DJ to ensure it would make quality selections:

“don’t know if I want to amplify or change my mood until I try” –U1

“Choose one song and say ‘more like this’ ” -U1 + U3

Need: Central Showpiece

Although our participants liked the idea of showing off their system to their friends, they strongly disliked the bead form factor we presented:

“Joe’s sexuality is suspect” – U1

“An abacus doesn’t exactly scream cool” – U2

“It’s going to be the hummel interface” – U1

Echoing the results of our user research our participants indicated that aesthetics was VERY important:

“it’s so easy to make [high-tech] look sooo shitty” –U2

“has to look like your friend’s [stuff] but better” – U1

“I didn’t spend 3 years in law school to have the same stuff as Joe Lunchbox” – U2

“Obsolescence = bad” – U2


IID 2005 . Human-Computer Interaction Institute . Carnegie Mellon University