UX Research: between qualitative and quantitative


Companies are very much aware of the importance of providing their customers with a smooth user experience. 

To be sure a product meets customer’s needs, it is essential to conduct user research. 

There are many ways to collect this precious data, however, most apply to two categories; Qualitative and Quantitative research. Both methods are employed in various scenarios. 

Therefore, they do not answer the same questions, although they provide different but valuable insights. In this blog post, we will focus on their differences and similarities and when and how to operate them.

The real challenge: to really put the customer at the center of its strategy

UX Research consists of observing user behavior to anticipate their thoughts, understand their needs and how they interact with the product. There are two main types of investigation: qualitative and quantitative. The method you will employ depends on the goals you want to achieve. Quantitative user research is used to generate numerical data, whereas qualitative is not really quantifiable. As mentioned earlier, both will provide valuable insights.

Qualitative research

Qualitative research focuses on the analysis of consumer behavior and the context of use, apart from statistical evaluations. It is all about detailed observation rather than statistical data. Only a few data are collected, as a consequence, it does not represent the majority of users. 

Qualitative research will get deeper in the “why”. It provides you with an informative look on users and will deliver insights that quantitative data can not. You will get to see what is on a user’s mind and observe their actions on your solution. From this, you can implement your product by making accurate choices.

Examples of qualitative approaches: 

  • Individual interviews,
  • Focus groups,
  • Remote user testing.

Quantitative research

Quantitative UX research, on the other hand, analyses user behavior on the basis of statistical data. It represents the study of consumer behavior focusing on statistical data. For this method a huge amount of information is required to be representative. The main advantage of this method of research is its objectivity. Indeed, you are not steering them in any way, just observing. Besides, it is quicker to collect and analyze.

Examples of quantitative practices: 

  • A/B test,
  • Heat map, 
  • Cohort analysis.

Why should I use both research methods?

To get the full picture of a problem, it is essential to use both research methods. Quantitative research is focusing on “what” and “who”. 

Contrastingly, qualitative methods help you understand and solve sticking points. This process assists you figure out the “why” and “how”. Employing both methods, you can be more confident of your findings if the results are convergent. 

For instance, you notice your bounce rate is quite high on your service page. You collected this data from a quantitative method research (Google Analytics). 

You might assume any scenarios to explain this high bounce rate. Your assumption would not be based on data and can be considered as probably inaccurate.

Relying on intuition instead of data is often undermining your work. That is the issue qualitative research would assist you solve. 

Indeed, to get to understand why the bounce rate is high, some qualitative methods can be used such as a user testing session, a heuristic evaluation or an online survey. In that way you will gather more insights about the “what” and the “why” and you can set actions based on real data.

Some real-life use cases that you can use

UX Analytics to understand behavior

To understand users’ behavior, UX analytics is also very helpful. UX analytics consists of analyzing and measuring users’ behavior on a website or app. Why are they leaving and where? What visual design lacks usability and accessibility? The results of this analysis give you insight on the way the interface can evolve to meet the users’ needs. 

There are several tools that carry out analysis for you like Hotjar that helps you to discover how your users feel and visualize user behavior. Contentsquare is also a leader in digital experience analysis and will allow you to understand your best opportunities and issues, as well as the engagement or confusion and frustration of users. 

These tools provide you more quantitative data on user behavior on your website or app. Starting from these results, we can then change, improve or test a new interface.

The most considerable advantage of UX analytics is that it builds its analysis on realistic and existent behavior of real users and not on an assumption of what you think they would or should behave.

A/B testing to optimize the user experience

What is A/B testing?

A/B testing is used to compare the performances of an application, website, email, landing page. At least one webpage is designed differently from the original one. Then, it is shown to different users in order to determine the one page that generates the most traffic and conversions. However, as it is a quantitative research method, it is important to have a minimum of 10 000 unique visitors a month to get enough data.

Source : Christian posta

What are the benefits of A/B testing?

There are several advantages of running a/b testings. Here is a list of the most common perks: 

  1. Improve the User Experience. There can be several pain points on a website that negatively impacts the user experience. With a/b testing, you will get the data to determine what are the pain points and get rid of them and therefore increase the sales.
  1. Reduce the bounce rate. It is an issue that many websites encounter. Confusing navigation, too many options or buttons. A/B testing is one way to reduce bounce rates, try different versions until you have the best one.
  1. It is cost-effective. Most SaaS providing A/B testing like the company A/B tasty are affordable. Plus, it is easy and intuitive to set up.

What should you test?

Some elements on a webpage or app have more impact than others on your users. It is interesting to test various parts of your website. However, it needs to be relevant. 

For instance, the layout of a page. Testing diverse elements, should you add images or videos? Tweak the layout in another way from the initial design.

Call to action can be tested, another color, change the wording, the size and location of the CTA.

The navigation can be designed differently, horizontals or vertical navigation.

To finish, the text is also an element to be tested. Indeed, long paragraph vs short, formal vs informal. Long vs short headlines, should it be a benefit orientated or product orientated headline?

Source: 50 A/B Testing Examples to Win You More Leads and Conversions – Adoric Blog, 2021

The most significant part when you analyze the data you get is to stay objective and try not to interpret this insight. Base your following actions on the results you got from the A/B test you ran. 

You get it, many elements can be tested and solutions like A/B Tasty, Google Optimize to only cite these two can help you run these tests.

User testing to touch the real thing

The process of user testing follows several crucial steps. The first one is to define the objectives and goals you want to achieve. Explore all the questions you need an answer to, every little thing you want to have an exterior insight. Then define and rank all these things.

After defining your objectives, you can define your most relevant participants.

Start by identifying the profiles of your ideal participants. Then, select the diverse participants that fit in this profile. These will help you to keep control of your study and gain efficient and relevant results. If this sound too difficult, several websites will assist you doing this task. Moreover, the nature of your research will affect the number of participants you need. In the case of quantitative research, you will need a significant number of participants to get accurate results. If it is a qualitative research, you will only involve a few relevant participants.

Once this step is done, it’s essential to engage with your audience and create sympathy. Maintaining a valuable relationship with your participants will help to understand them better. If you have the opportunity to do it, spend time with them. Observe their facial expression, body language, discuss with them. Their feedback, experience, is precious. Pay attention to their intonation. A strong relationship with your audience provides you with precious insights.

It’s time now to analyze your results. If you have made a good selection of participants, your analysis should be insightful. Find out the things that have pleased or not your audience, and the potential problem they face. Thanks to the analysis, you will be able to answer your first question and understand your strengths and weaknesses.

The process of this analysis can often be long, especially if it is a quantitative analysis. In this case, some tools can help to automatize the analysis and get the results quicker. This is what is developing. This solution is conceived to support you and save time by automatizing the analysis and giving you clear and relevant results.

Customer feedback to hear user voice

Customer feedback is a verbal or written information provided by customers expressing what they think about a product, service, or website experience.

The aim is to evaluate the level of satisfaction of the customer on a product or a service, to conceive a quality product or service.

The success of a business depends primarily on its ability to listen and consider the advice from customers to improve your product or service depending on their expectations.

In this way, feedback will be valuable for UX designers, researchers, and product managers.

Several tools like customer satisfaction, net promoter score, or survey exist to assist you get observations. Furthermore, it is better to collect consumer feedback at several stages when you are developing a product, like the prototyping state and after the releasing stage.

How to get customer feedback? Well, it is the same process as user testing. 

In the first place, you need to define your objective, then write the questions you are going to use. Try mixing open-ended, closed-ended, and numeric questions will help you to gather comprehensive results. After that, choose your participants, and you are ready to begin!

CompanyQuestion Feedback’s objectives
EasyJetTell us how you feelGet travelers’ opinion to personalize the experience.
DecathlonOn a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you agree with the following statement: “Decathlon.fr makes my shopping easier”.Check the functionality and usefulness of the site.
BosePlease share your opinionGet customer’s opinion on a specific area.

To summarize

Quantitative and qualitative research are complementary methods that address different issues. As mentioned previously, quantitative research method is based on large samples of users whereas qualitative research involves a few participants (usually five is enough to get valuable insights). That’s why it is advisable to use both, as qualitative will determine the Why and How of an issue, whereas quantitative will address the What and Who.

To sum up, when both methods are used it provides designers and researchers with a fuller, more comprehensive idea of the success of their product. At long last, you will reach a better user satisfaction.







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