The Forrester Industry Wave™ Methodology Guide

Executive Summary

The Forrester Industry Wave is Forrester’s expert evaluation of the digital experiences that firms in a particular industry deliver to consumers. This research evaluates both the functionality integrated into each firm’s digital touchpoint, and the user experience (UX) that the touchpoint provides its users. Our analysis focuses on a digital touchpoint in one industry per report, be it the desktop website, the mobile site, or the mobile app. The UX component of the research is a heuristic review driven by a persona and user scenarios.

Why Forrester Conducts Forrester Industry Wave Evaluations

Our industry wave research helps business, marketing, and technology leaders understand the best practices and digital experiences that drive growth. Forrester clients can review these best practices and recommendations for their own industry, but also look across industries to understand how consumer experiences and expectations are changing in other markets. In each report, we provide an overview of our research findings, as well as detailed recommendations for companies seeking to set their own digital experience priorities. Our evaluation enables all companies – participants in the research and non-participants — to make well-informed decisions on what enables exceptional digital interactions.

Participants In The Forrester Industry Wave Process

A Forrester Industry Wave builds upon the participation of the following key players:

  • Research Leaders. Two research leaders conduct the Forrester Industry Wave research and oversee its conclusions. One leads the review of the digital functionality, the other leads the review of user experience. Through tight coordination, these two research leaders determine the inclusion criteria to select participants, build the persona and scenarios, and establish the criteria for the functionality and user experience scorecards. The two research leaders also oversee the scoring and report writing.
  • Project Manager/Researcher. The project manager is the process lead on the Forrester Industry Wave, driving and maintaining the project schedule and serving as the main point of contact with participants throughout the process. The project manager also supports the evaluation process, which is conducted by research leaders and researchers.
  • Brand response teams. The brand response team comprises the key contacts we work with at the companies we evaluate. Forrester relies on the team’s participation to provide access to any non-public portions of the digital experience. The team also aids in verifying information that we collect in our functionality review.

The Forrester Industry Wave Process

The Forrester Industry Wave process includes:

1. Pre-research planning. The research leaders conduct their primary research for the industry sector. We use our own industry expertise and Forrester’s consumer insights to identify brands for inclusion, pinpoint different customer scenarios, identify the digital touchpoints that consumers use, and identify the functionality that helps customers achieve their goals. We target a select number of brands in each industry, and determine unique inclusion criteria on every review. The inclusion or exclusion of a brand in an industry wave report is exclusively Forrester’s editorial decision. Brands may not be added or removed to the research at their request.

2. Research kickoff. The research leaders and researcher reach out to contacts at the brands we choose to evaluate, to gain participation from brand response teams. This communication provides an overview of the research focus. It also includes the general timeline, methodology, persona, scenarios, and research focus. Finally, it provides an overview of information we may request from participants. If Forrester is unable to find appropriate contacts, we may proceed to the next step without direct involvement from the brand.

3. Expert reviews. The research leaders, using the identified scenarios and criteria, evaluate each brand’s digital experience. The analyst evaluates what is currently available to the brand’s prospects and customers. The outcome is a two-part score for each brand — one score each for functionality and usability. We use these scores to produce the Forrester Industry Wave graphic and supporting scorecards.

4. Fact-checking. The Researcher shares individual evaluation scorecards with each brand we evaluate, if we have been able to reach contacts at those brands. Brands can provide factual feedback and supporting evidence to address any factual errors regarding the brand’s functionality during the fact-checking time period. User experience findings leverage a heuristic review and are not subject to fact-checking.

5. Courtesy preview and publishing of the Forrester Industry Wave report. Once the team has developed and reviewed all research deliverables, it’s time to share the research with participants. The team sends out a courtesy preview report to all firms we evaluate, usually two days prior to publication of the report on Forrester’s website. This is a courtesy preview period only, and we consider the content of the Forrester Industry Wave report final.