9 May 2022 1283 words, 6 min. read

Improve your focus groups with these 10 online tools

By Pierre-Nicolas Schwab PhD in marketing, director of IntoTheMinds
Today, more and more focus groups and individual interviews are conducted remotely. This transition to the virtual presents specific difficulties. One of the most significant challenges remains the remote participation in projective techniques? This article presents 10 tools for conducting […]

Today, more and more focus groups and individual interviews are conducted remotely. This transition to the virtual presents specific difficulties. One of the most significant challenges remains the remote participation in projective techniques? This article presents 10 tools for conducting qualitative interviews and focus groups remotely, using methods such as collages, perceptual maps, and many others. At the end of this article, you will also find this software benchmark.


To keep in mind

  • Not creating an account is a definite advantage for participants in qualitative interviews and focus groups.
  • There is at least one free online solution for each projective technique.$
  • Take advantage of the Premium offers without breaking the bank: only PicMonkey and Visme exceed $10 per month on the tools analyzed.
  • BeFunky, PicMonkey, and MindMeister are for you if you prefer to use your phone.

Use collages for emotional themes

This first qualitative research method is particularly well suited to projects of an exploratory nature. In a group setting, participants develop a collage representing their feelings about a brand, a product, a particular topic, etc. The focus group organizer provides magazine clippings, words, and drawings to individuals in a face-to-face environment. But how do you apply this way of working to a videoconference?

Two online tools answer this need: BeFunky and PicMonkey. Both have a mobile application to make collages with our cell phones. In both cases, you will have to create an account before the first use. Other than that, the tools differ in several ways:

BeFunky PicMonkey
Free of charge version? Yes No
Mandatory one-week trial version? No Yes
Real-time collaboration? No Yes
Shutterstock image stock? No Yes
Available in several languages? Yes No

This video explains the basic features of the Collage Maker software by BeFunky:

A perceptual mapping to locate a brand’s positioning

The perceptual mapping technique allows the organizer of an individual interview or focus group to understand better how consumers perceive a brand. This exercise is beneficial in a positioning exercise or a competition analysis. For example, imagine that you have to position a dozen car brands according to two axes: price and prestige.

Two tools allow you to realize this exercise: Conceptboard and Visual Paradigm Online. The applications have equivalent offers and propose the same functionalities, i.e., the edition of a two-axis perceptual mapping template. Although similar, the websites differ in one fundamental aspect. Conceptboard does not require account creation. This is an essential advantage for the intuitive use of this technique, especially during quick brainstorming sessions.

Conceptboard’s YouTube channel contains a video explaining the 6 steps to get started with the software.

The unconditional mindmaps

It is reasonable to say that mind mapping is one of the best-known projective techniques. Choose broad topics to elicit a large number of responses from the participants in your focus group. The topic under study is placed in the center of blank space: time, mobility, culture, etc. Then, determine the sub-themes and position them on the Mindmap. This type of exercise is advantageous during focus groups because it allows you to go deeper into a theme and explore all its angles.

There are many websites proposing mind mapping. Let’s stop at MindMeister, one of the most recognized platforms in the field. Its tools are proposed in several languages, and its free version allows you to compile 3 mind maps per account, but also to work in groups on the same document. Its three Premium packages range from 4.99€ to 12.49€ and include options to simplify file import/export, as well as faster customer service.

Watch MindMeister’s video introduction to Mind Map Editor below.

Make life graphs to describe experiences

This technique is quite interesting to illustrate our experiences as consumers (think of customer experience, for example).

On a two-axis graph, take a particular consumer topic, such as air travel, and note the ups and downs. Feel free to justify the peaks on the axis you are plotting. This is a method used during individual interviews or focus groups to help the interviewees visualize their experiences. Why did you enjoy/dislike this aspect of the experience, and how did you experience each key stage of the topic in question?

Visme allows you to do this type of exercise online. Its graphics section proposes different graph templates with curves. There is also a Visme desktop software: the website has many digital tools for teamwork. This is undoubtedly why its Premium offers are less accessible than the previously mentioned applications.

The video below describes the basics of Visme for chart creation.

Psychodrawing”, for creative respondents

“Psychodrawing” will be your favorite projective technique for all drawing enthusiasts. This is the perfect method to unlock the thoughts of your most creative respondents, but it is also a technique that leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Let’s take a concrete case; during a qualitative interview, you ask your guest to draw his relationship with money.

To realize online psychodrawing, you need a tool that is easy to use, with plenty of customization options to meet the creative needs of some. Aggie.io is a good solution. In its free version, this online software integrates all the essential functions of drawing software. Its $9.99/month premium version gives access to more advanced brushes and a live slider preview, for example.

On YouTube, Embryonic gives some advice on how to use Aggie.io.

Fill in phylacteries (“thought bubbles”)

This is undoubtedly the most straightforward projective technique to understand. It fills in phylacteries, such as those found in comic books. In focus groups, the facilitator asks the participants what the person in the image thinks of a brand, their emotions about a product, an experience, etc.

Among the many websites available online to accomplish this task, Phrase.It has the advantage of having a straightforward interface. This will simplify the work of the organizer of the online focus group or the qualitative remote interview. Moreover, there is neither a Premium version nor the obligation to create a user account.

Hili Zavaro proposes a quick tutorial to get the most out of the website.

Determine your psychological profile with the Rorschach test

The Rorschach test is usually reserved for the field of psychiatry. In 1921, Hermann Rorschach developed these famous symmetrical tasks to detect the subject’s personality traits being questioned. For each ink task, we notice that most of the answers given by the participants are pretty similar. This makes it possible to determine our state of mental health.

A few websites have published a series of questions typical of the Rorschach test, such as the Open-Source Psychometrics Project and IDRlabs. These are pretty similar, although the first test proposes to have two answers per image. Also, the IDRlabs test is available in several languages.

For our curious readers, here is an intervention by Damion Searls explaining the mechanics of the Rorschach test.

Benchmark of brainstorming applications

Online tool Projective technique Online software ? Desktop software ? Mobile application? price offer 1 (per month) price offer 2 (per month) price offer 3 (per month) price offer 4 (per month)
BeFunky Collages Online software /mobile application 0€ 9,99€ / /
PicMonkey Collages Online software / mobile application 10.99€ 16.99€ 29.00€ /
Open-Source Psychometrics Project Rorschach Online software 0€ / / /
IDRlabs Rorschach Online software 0€ / / /
Conceptboard Perceptual Mapping Online software 0$ 6$ 9.50$ Customized price
Visual Paradigm Online Perceptual Mapping Online software 0$ 4$ 9$ 15$
Visme Life Graphs Online software / Desktop software 0$ 29$ 59$ Customized price
Phrase.It Thought Bubble Online software 0€ / / /
Aggie.io Psychodrawing Online software 0$ 9.99$ / /
MindMeister Mind Mapping Online software / mobile application 0€ 4,99€ 8,25€ 12,49€


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