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Repertory Grid – What is it?

Author: Minh Nguyen

Reading time:

Sep 2023

The repertory grid technique is a method that has been used relatively seldom in product development. Yet it can even significantly support product development in two important areas:

In the early stages, when the context and requirements are defined, and in the evaluation of a product.

Many of the usability methods aim at a deeper understanding of the user, so does the repertory grid technique.

The most effective methods are usually those that allow a very free exchange with users, such as the interview. However, the problem with conducting interviews is that both conducting them and analyzing them can be very time-consuming, and transferring the results to other users is sometimes very complex.

The Repertory Grid technique tries to combine the free approach with a standardized approach in order to find out more about the user and his way of evaluating products.


How does the method work?

The method is applied in such a way that a selection of similar products – for example smartphones, if the development of a new smartphone is concerned – is printed individually on small cards.

These 20 or so cards then each contain a picture of the product and, if necessary, a short description.

Then three cards are randomly drawn from the 20, and the user has the task of putting two of them together (these two are similar from the user’s point of view) and putting one of them separately.

He is then asked to explain how the two products in one pile are similar and how the other differs from the two. He is then asked to name as many characteristics as he can think of (for example, unusual and conventional).

These terms are entered by the interviewer on a prefabricated blank questionnaire with a so-called semantic differential (a scale with a term on the left – for example, unusual – then a number of boxes and another term on the right – for example, conventional). This is repeated until the user cannot think of any new terms. Then the next group of three cards is drawn at random, these are sorted again, and so on. In the end, a questionnaire is created that contains all relevant terms from the user’s point of view to evaluate this product category.

The user is then asked to indicate which side of the differential is positive from his point of view (Is unusual better or conventional?) and is then asked to rate all products on his own questionnaire.

On the one hand, this provides the relevant categories in which users think when they think about smartphones, and on the other hand, an assessment of how other products perform in these dimensions.

In addition, it is possible to subsequently create a common questionnaire from all the questionnaires, which summarizes the important terms for this product area and thus simplifies an assessment in subsequent tests and makes it similar between different users.


The Repertory Grid technique answers these questions

  • How do users like the visual design of my interface?
  • How do users rate different variants of my product or my product compared to a competitor’s product?


How does the method work with us?

Let us find out together whether a repertory grid technique is the right method for your question and how a collaboration works in detail. You can find our contact details here.


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In our method assistant we have compiled the most important methods for the most typical questions. Try out the method assistant and find exactly the right method for your question: Click here for the method assistant.

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