If Erika Hall, co-founder of Mule Design, could achieve one thing with her time here on earth, Ishemight be content if that one thing could be burning to the ground the practice of running focus groups in place of actual user research.
“A focus group is an artificial construct that is so much about the group dynamic. No one buys shoes, cooks dinner, votes, banks, or even buys movie tickets sitting at a table under florescent lights while engaged in a moderated group discussion. I am certain a lot of productive work takes place sitting around tables at Starbucks with homogenous groups of random strangers, but none of them are interacting with each other. Unless you are designing something for use in a focus group, focus groups are absolutely meaningless as an ethnographic research tool.”