Welcome to Bellbird

our blog contains a great many articles on user / usability testing, plain language, research with 'older' people' and different research methods.


Why reading information about investing is like meeting people at a party

We have just been doing some ‘consumer testing’ with people who have managed funds.  As ever, when you use a technique like this you learn more and more about how to do it well.  This time it occurred to me that people react to information in almost the same way that they interact with people.

We use a hybrid method where we first collect data, and then conduct a qualitative interview so we are able to measure reactions but also gain qualitative insight.

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Why are we applauding our financial services clients?

The financial services that many organisations provide to their customers are complex. These services can be difficult to understand and even harder to explain.  Some organisations have recognised this complexity, and have done all they can to ensure that their customers knew what they were buying. The regulations required them to offer a PDS or Prospectus, but they went over and above what was specifically asked for. They tested their documentation with customers.  (This is called 'consumer testing').  Those of our clients who did this - we applaud you!

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Don't test written content in focus groups

It has never been so important for brands to write clearly and effectively to their customers, yet the techniques most research agencies use to test written communications have not kept up with the times.

Many clients still use focus groups, because that is how they have always tested advertising. 

I love focus groups, but here are three reasons why we need to test written communications such as brochures, websites and correspondence individually, not in groups.

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Three tips for testing disclosure, labels and claims

One of the things we like to do most is to help organisations communicate clearlySo we do a lot of testing of organisational communications of various kinds such as disclosure documents, fact sheets, labels and the like. We always advise our clients that 'understanding' involves more than just understanding the words.  This paper on nutrition claims supports our view. Based on our insights and supported by the evidence in the study described in the paper, here are three tips for testing labels, fact sheets and claims.

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The 10 Best Reasons for Conducting Qualitative Research

What would marketers and other decision-makers miss if they no longer had access to qualitative research?  Here are the ten best reasons.

This is a summary of a post by Kevin Gray, who was in turn summarising a piece by John Creswell.  I agree with all of it, but have changed the wording a little.

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Exploring the symbolism of the failed co-branding between Sydney Opera House & Racing NSW

Advertising the Racing NSW brand on the Sydney Opera House is a failed co-branding attempt. It failed because of the clashing symbolism of the two parties involved.

Is this a billboard or is it co-branding?

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What is your view on how people make decisions?  In this blog post I describe why we at Susan Bell Research think sense-making is such a useful way to think about how consumers, citizens and business people make decisions. For us, it is better than the alternatives, so let's start there.

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Recently, the impact of our work was seen at a national level during the Banking Royal Commission where several of our reports were submitted for consideration.

We conduct many projects on emotional, sensitive or challenging topics, connecting with customers who are in difficult or confronting circumstances of various kinds. Our research into emotion-driven decision-making focused attention onto the impact on individuals navigating life-changing decisions about superannuation, retirement and investment.

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Deep understanding of the decision making process can enhance the way an organisation addresses the pain points of their customers and stakeholders.

Here are three key lessons we have learned in our work researching how people make difficult decisions, especially long term decisions like whether or not to retire, or whether to invest in a self-managed super fund.

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