Prevalence and state of user research
Finland is a country where usability testing has been taken seriously in a commercial context for quite some time. One of the main reasons is that Nokia has had a major impact on all the aspects of research & development in Finland. One of Nokia's competitive advantages and strategic priorities has always been the superior usability of their products.
Availability and location
Almost all usability testing is done in Helsinki, the capital area. There are other cities as well, but generally Finns behave the same all over the country, decreasing the need to travel for gaining better understanding. Usability tests can be arranged in any large city if desired.
There is not a great deal of competition between recruitment agencies for usability testing, which raises the costs for recruitment.
Drop out rates
If the recruitment agency is not responsible for all communication towards the recruits, it may be a good idea to send an informal SMS-message a couple of hours before testing to make sure that the invited participants are coming. Finns tend to be on time and precise, but if a problem arises, it may be hard to come up with replacement candidates on short notice.
The population is quite small in size (Insert population #), making it more difficult to locate suitable target users for all the diverse segments needed.
Language and translation considerations
Depending on the demographics of the users selected, Finns are not used to speaking English. It may be easier to have more open discussions in the local language and present the main findings in English if possible. If budget constraints are not too limiting, it might also be a good idea to use a translator to open up the discussion between the moderator and the test person.
Testing design and protocols
Quantitative vs. qualitative
When facilitated well, focus groups are good means of collecting honest insight about consumer experiences.
An easy way to lower communication barriers is to plan an informal pre-session introduction with undemanding conversation and coffee. As a general guideline, prepare for ten extra minutes of ‘ice breaking,’ which is light conversation time before the actual testing begins.
The basic issues, like stressing anonymity and natural behavior during testing, are good things to keep in mind to relax the user.
It is useful to create a comfortable testing environment that is less laboratory or office-like. This can be achieved with simple, warm things like sofas, plants, etc.
Travel and transportation
Travel within this country
Finland is a very easy country to travel through by plane or by train, if needed.
Finnish people tend to willingly participate in market research and related activities. Generally, Finns are very optimistic when presented with innovations and forthcoming ideas.
When the time has come to conduct tests, Finns are introverts compared to, for example, Swedes or Norwegians. They do not speak openly about their feelings towards something or towards new ideas. However, if the discussion opens up, participants will give their very honest and pure opinions about the test subject.
Comfort using technology
Finland is a relatively easy country in which to conduct usability tests of high-technology products, due to high Internet and mobile penetration.
Holiday, seasonality, and timing considerations
The summer is short in Finland, and Finns tend to make the most of it. Therefore, it may be hard to get usability tests done from June to August. July is the official summer vacation month, so almost everything is closed at that time. When combined with the holiday period in August in other parts of Europe, it may result in up to two months of inefficiency during the summer.