Tutorial 1: Planning Your Research

Phase roadmap

New to dscout and not sure how to start? This guide explains the foundations of dscout and outlines best practices for planning & designing your research. Complete the following three steps and you'll be on your way to dscout mastery!

Planning Your Research

  1. Learn the Foundations: Missions and Entries
  2. Get to Know the Five Mission Types
  3. Start Prototyping


1. Learn the Foundations: Missions and Entries

dscout is a research tool that helps you collect media, answers to survey questions, location data and time data from people with smartphones. On your computer, you’ll design research activities called “missions” which your participants will complete using the dscout mobile app.

In a mission, you ask participants to show you an experience and answer specific questions about what’s happening in that moment. The most powerful (and tricky) part of researching on dscout is that within a mission, your participants show you their experience multiple times -- and each time, they answer the same set of questions to create a unique entry.

Consider these examples

  • Show me every time you eat a meal on-the-go this week, and for each meal, explain where you purchased it and how much you like it.
  • Show me your morning beauty routine by breaking it down into steps, and tell me how each step makes you feel.
  • Show me your kid’s 5 favorite mobile apps, and tell me what you like or dislike about each one.
  • Show me 3 factors you consider when buying wine, and explain how important each factor is.

You’ll notice each example has two things in common. First, a “show me” statement that defines the experience participants should capture with entries (e.g., Show me every meal you eat). Then, there is a set of questions participants will answer each time they make an entry (e.g., Where is the meal from? How much do you like it?). The bundles of data your participants create are called "entries". Entries consist of one media prompt, answers to questions and basic data like time and location. 

When you design your mission, you will create 2 things:
  1. Mission instructions that define the experience participants should capture. (e.g. show us every meal you eat this week)
  2. A single set of up to 10 questions (you could think of them as a script) that participants will answer EACH time they create a diary-study-style entry in your mission. (e.g. take a photo of your meal, explain your meal in a few sentences, etc.)

You can give scouts only one media prompt per mission, but they'll respond to that prompt multiple times if you ask them to create multiple entries. The mission example below starts with a photo prompt, is 5 questions long, and asks scouts to create 14 entries by repeating the process of answering those same 5 questions 14 times over the course of a week.


2. Get to Know the Five Mission Types

When creating a mission, it almost always works best to model it after one of the five mission types highlighted below. Start by familiarizing yourself with each of them. In a few moments, you'll prototype mission designs within each approach.

Moments 

Scouts capture recurring experiences as they happen in real-time. "Show me every time you...." 

Process

Scouts document key moments of a process in realtime. "Show me your process as you go about..." 

Inventory

Scouts show you all the things they use or own within a specific topic. "Show me all the ways you..." 

Reflection

Scouts explain their preferences, memories and motivators. "Show me how you feel about..." 

Ideation

Scouts present their ideas and suggestions. "Show me your ideas for..." 


3. Start Prototyping

This is the fun part! Your research can probably be approached using any of the five mission types, or better yet, a combination of several missions. Spend 5 minutes prototyping within each approach and you'll have an array of options to choose from. Just fill in the blanks on the following statements. The first blank can be expanded to form your mission instructions while the second blank is the basis of mission questions.

Moments

Scouts capture recurring experiences as they happen in realtime.
  • Show me every time you ________ and tell me ________
  • Show me the high moments and low moments of ________ and tell me ________

Process

Scouts document key moments of a process in realtime.
  • Show me your process as you go about ________ and tell me ________
  • Show me how you ________ by capturing key steps and tell me ________

Inventory

Scouts show you all the things they use or own within a specific topic.
  • Show me all the ways you ________ and tell me ________
  • Show me all the ________ you use/own and tell me ________

Reflection

Scouts explain their preferences, memories and motivators.
  • Show me how you feel about ________ and tell me ________
  • Show me what is important to you about ________ and tell me ________
  • Show me 3 things you like and 3 things you dislike about ________ and tell me ________

Ideation

Scouts present their ideas and suggestions.
  • Show me your ideas for ________ and tell me ________
  • Show me your ideal ________ and tell me ________
  • Show me 5 ways we could improve ________ and tell me ________

After you consider a few approaches to your research, you can translate your prototype statements into a dscout mission with clear instructions and questions. Ready to give it a shot? 

PRO TIP: When building a mission in dscout, you can now choose from 5 templates designed and used by dscout’s own user success team. Choose a template, modify a few things to fit your needs, and launch.

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