Using research for real time product development

By Linda Findlay

A global software development company wished to provide owners of basic feature phones with over a dozen new mobile applications, including a mobile wallet, through one single application.

BVA BDRC carried out preliminary investigative work through ethnographies in Cape Town and the Eastern Cape to understand a) how low-income South Africans living in the urban areas transfer money to family members living in the rural areas, and b) how they use their cell phones in day-to-day life.

This preliminary stage in the research identified a number of features desirable in a new mobile application, which were subsequently developed and built into a test application.

We then went on to recruit a panel of 60 individuals to test and provide feedback on the functionality and usability of the app over a two-week period.  Each day, each respondent was set an individual task to undertake using the mobile app.  Feedback on the user experience was collected and collated at the end of each day and fed back to the developers in the United States.  Given the time difference between South Africa and the US, the developers were able to fix any gremlins whilst the panel were sleeping and introduce new functionality to be tested the following day.

At the end of the two-week test, we conducted a series of short video recorded interviews with a dozen of the participants to hear their feedback on the overall user experience.  The application was subsequently launched and was the first mobile wallet available in South Africa.