About the Applicant
Gauge Design is an user experience, usability research and interactive agency in the San Francisco Bay Area. We service all areas of product design and development, whether it be in your pocket, automobile or on your desktop. Founded in 1999 by Nick Cawthon, Gauge Design has worked with some of the largest and most diverse companies out there - including Oracle, Verizon, Wells Fargo, Walmart, the San Francisco Giants and Safeway.
The innovative technique described in this application eschews the stale methods commonly found in user research, replacing them with a real-time, technology-centric approach to gathering quantitative and qualitative feedback on a large scale. The study originated from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, and was backed by the Canadian Department of Agriculture in order to explore a new method of aquaculture in oysters. For validation that this controlled, but more efficient method of farming would be acceptable to the general public, Simon Fraser contracted with Gauge Design to design a study and method that would both educate and survey reactions and perceived price points. Gauge Design rejected the traditional notion that the best method would to manually screen and recruit participants, then schedule a sterile testing facility, gathering forced opinions behind a two-way mirror and transcribing any recorded opinions for later compilation and presentation to a remote client. This approach would not fulfill the intended scale of that the study was to operate under from a budgetary constraint, nor would scheduling focus group sessions take advantage of the diversity of the constant populous of domestic and international tourists that San Francisco provides. A multi-regional study could be executed right on our doorstep. Instead, multiple surveyors were placed on the waterfront of San Francisco with connected tablets, strategically located in the proximity of the several oyster bars and seafood restaurants that catered to tourist and local alike. Participants were recruited walking idly along the embarcadero, usually more than happy to take pause and provide opinion. As a result of collaborating with Simon Fraser, a short instructional multimedia demonstration was shown on the tablets, educating the uninitiated to this new method of aquaculture and providing context to the questions around what their acceptance level might be. Approximately 300 participants from 12 different countries were rewarded with gift cards from a local coffee franchise for 20 minutes of engagement, with the study spanning nearly two weeks. With the surveyors using tablets and submitting screener and survey questions through a browser-based forms, Simon Fraser was able to see results come across in real-time. Demographic information, state and country of origin, seafood consumption habits and all other questions were able to be viewed and analyzed through a custom designed dashboard. As a result, the study could be guided in one direction or the other if the client or contractor felt as if the sampling of participants was skewing too far to one demographic or the other. With the client being remote, this feeling of both connection and control became an important part of the overall engagement, providing them with an experience of instant feedback and fulfillment, which would have been impossible using traditional user research methods.