There are many different methods of conducting UX research, however, all of them can be classified into either qualitative and quantitative research depending on the type of data obtained. In this article, we’ll compare both of them and show you when to use which method in order to obtain the information you need.

Ready? Let’s jump in.

What is qualitative research?

Qualitative research is a behavioural research method that relies on non-numerical data derived from observations and recordings that characterise phenomena. It’s analysing, and interpreting non-numerical data, such as language. It sometimes seeks to understand how an individual subjectively perceives and gives meaning to their social reality.

Advantages and disadvantages of qualitative data:

The most significant advantage to qualitative data is that it’s easy to present your data as a story to your audience. In this way, qualitative data has both staying power and the ability to persuade others. People remember stories and how they make them feel. While charts and numbers can convince others to change, they won’t always translate into action.

Advantages:

  • It’s a flexible research method since you can change your questions, or add additional depth to the questions you’re asking.
  • There is no “right” or “wrong” answer because it is an open-ended process, which makes data collection much easier.

Disadvantages:

  • It’s often not a statistically representative form of data collection, and it can require multiple data sessions, which can lead to varying analyses and a lot of time and resources spent.

Overview of the qualitative research methods

qualitative ux research methods

Interviews

This method is used to collect in-depth information on people’s personal histories, perspectives, and experiences. Mainly when exploring sensitive topics or follow-up questions are likely necessary. Interviews can be conducted one-on-one or in a group context, such as a focus group, and can be done in person or remotely via video call.

User observation

Involves observing users engage with your design or product and taking notes on their actions, reactions, and challenges as they attempt to complete the tasks.

Usability testing

A process of evaluating a product or service by putting it to the test with real users and giving them tasks to complete. Usability testing can be moderated or unmoderated, and it can be done in person or remotely.

What is quantitative research?

Quantitative research is the process of collecting and analyzing numerical data. It aims to find patterns and averages, make predictions, and generalize results to broader populations by representing data expressed as numbers.

Advantages and disadvantages of quantitative data:

Quantitative data collection is relatively easy to do, and so is analysis. Since you’re dealing with numbers, it’s typically easier to interpret quantitative data and present your findings to others in a less subjective way.

Advantages:

  • It is a straightforward process to implement, thereby allows researchers to collect information quickly from a large number of participants.
  • Quantitative research uses a larger sample size, allowing you to learn more about your users and enhance the research’s credibility.

Disadvantages:

  • There’s a chance that the responses or characteristics provided aren’t representative of the entire population. Because of the assumptions and generalizations that are required for this activity, it is relatively easy to arrive at incorrect conclusions.
  • While quantitative research can tell you how many people did a specific action, or which features they favor, it can’t tell you the reasons for their actions or choices.

Overview of the quantitative research methods

quantitative research methods

A/B testing

A/B testing involves putting two or more versions of your design to the test on users to see which one is the most effective. Each variation differs only in one aspect, which may or may not influence how users react. A/B testing is particularly useful for confirming assumptions derived from qualitative research.

Surveys

A popular approach for gathering quantitative data is by having users fill out a series of questionnaires. Surveys are typically used for quantitative research, but they can also be used for qualitative research when structured properly. 

Analytics

Using analytical tools like Google Analytics to measure metrics, such as page views or click-through rates, gives you a better understanding of your user’s behavior.

So, which one is better: qualitative or quantitative?

Overall, no single research approach will be able to provide you with answers to all of your questions. Using a range of methodologies in your research is the greatest plan. Both qualitative and quantitative research play an important role in the design process and also provide us with different kinds of information from users. Sharewell will help you to get the best of both worlds and obtain the most accurate assessment from your research.