Qualitative Research for Kids.gov - Conversations With Our Audience

May 10, 2016   Posted by: Joanne McGovern

At USAGov, we’re taking a close look at Kids.gov -- a long-standing site focused on providing information and resources to parents, teachers, and kids. Our cross-functional team has joined forces to “reenvision” the site’s content and presentation to be sure that we’re doing our best to meet the needs of our current audience.

While the site analytics and secondary market research teams provided information that was incredibly valuable and informative, we were still missing some pieces of the puzzle - the actual voices of parents, teachers, and kids.

Why We Used Qualitative Research Methods

There’s no substitute for quantitative research to give you real information on audience behavior, but for this project, we wanted a richer picture. So we dug a bit deeper to learn some things that the data can’t tell us. We used our interviews to:

  • Identify customer needs
  • Discover and discuss ideas for potential new features
  • Explore potential strategic directions for branding or communications programs

What We Did

For this project, we conducted 9 interviews, each approximately 30 minutes in length, with parents, teachers, and kids. Our interviews were conducted in-person and over the phone, and our interviewees live across the United States, many far outside the beltway.

What We Learned

Here are some initial findings from our interviews:

  • All but one interviewee was unaware that Kids.gov exists, but none had ever visited the site.
  • Teachers face a great deal of challenges meeting the needs of a diverse student body. They are time and resource constrained and frequently look for materials to teach lessons. They need primary materials, like lesson plans, and supplementary materials to support a lesson, like worksheets, crafts, and activities. Materials need to come from a reliable source, and they need to be free of charge.
  • Younger children (<8th grade), don’t frequently use the internet for help with homework. When the kids do use the internet for homework assistance, it’s usually for help with math problems.
  • Parents spend more time helping younger kids with homework, and math problems are a consistent area of focus.
  • It’s common for parents to use the internet to look for health and developmental information to care for and support their children.

Next Steps

A full report of our findings will be shared with the team and used to provide a layer of audience awareness to the data analysis and market research.

Look for our final installment of the Kids.gov Reenvisioning series following the project’s completion.

Joanne McGovern is a UX Specialist for USAGov.  

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