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Just Accept Things as Cool

Just Accept Things as Cool

iModerate Author

Apr 11, 2011

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No doubt about it, I like things that are cool. In my world that refers to back-flips off mountains, microbreweries, baseball and qualitative research when used and presented appropriately.

Recently I came to the realization that word clouds are pretty cool. The word cloud or text cloud is simply a visualization of word frequency in a given text. In the past few years they have become extremely popular – and they are easy to create on sites like wordle or tagxedo. You can find them on tons of blogs and websites, and more and more in research deliverables. In fact, they are so sticky that they are commonly used by news outlets to bring a visual aspect to their stories. For example, here are two word clouds comparing an Obama speech versus a Cheney speech on the same day.

Sure they’re popular, but do they provide the deep insight and contextual understanding that qualitative research strives to deliver? I don’t think so, and I am not only one. As Tom Anderson notes in his NGMR Top-5 HOT vs. Top-5 NOT, “…A savvy client side executive will soon fire a high profile supplier for showing one word cloud too many.” That being said, when I look at a word cloud do I like the look of it? Does it immediately capture my attention? Do I scrutinize the big and small words? Absolutely. Why? Because they are cool and sticky; they have color, they are simple, they seem tangible and they allow me to quickly analyze, interpret and make conclusions. And I think clients like them for the same reasons I do.

In an earlier posting, I made the case that deliverables need to tell the whole story. While word clouds do not, my hope is that they can still be a part of the bigger insight picture. After all, as long as objectives are being met, what’s wrong with throwing a little cool in?

iModerate Author

Our research work with iModerate over the past several years has developed into a true partnership. Their unique fusion of both qualitative and quantitative methodologies in a single study has offered new insights into key topics and markets of interest for our organization, which in turn, we are able to quickly turn into action steps. They are flexible, responsive, and extremely engaged in the entire project process, from conception and design to final data processing and delivery. They have even gone above and beyond by volunteering their time, resources, and expertise to assist with a special target market project on women. iModerate has their finger on the pulse of the research industry and consistently provides creative suggestions and solutions to enhance our current work. This ultimately allows us to provide our leadership with the strategic insights and opportunities that helps us to advance the common good.

Kristin Thomsen, Manager, Market Research, United Way Worldwide