By Owen Fay . Posted on June 24, 2022

Almost everyone that does or has done market research knows about quantitative and qualitative data, but do you know why both are essential to your testing process?

Today there are a lot of user research tools but not all of them are equal, a number of platforms only provide users with quantitative data. The numbers behind the test shows you clicks, votes, percentages, or number of responses. Qualitative data or the why behind all of the decisions provide just as much value to your research, if not more.

In every usability-testing study, a subject completes some predetermined activities on one or more resources. A user research study can gather two types of data:

  • Qualitative data consists of observational findings that categorize how easy or difficult it is to use a design element.
  • Quantitative data is in the form of one or more metrics that indicate how quickly or easily an activity can be completed.

By ensuring that the weaknesses of one form of data are counterbalanced by the advantages of another, using a combination of qualitative and quantitative data can lead to the best results.

The internet is full of professionals who debate about the quality of one strategy over the other. But the truth is that both qualitative and quantitative research has benefits and drawbacks. In this blog we’ll explain both types of data and why both are essential to see the full picture in a research process.

What is Quantitative Research?

The goal of quantitative research is to quantify the data and examine the numbers behind the test, data collection is in the form of counts or numbers has a distinct value. Before using non-numerical data for statistical analysis, a researcher should quantify the data.

Determining questions like “how many,” “how often,” or “how much,” can be used for calculations and statistical analysis. The goal of this approach is to gather the numbers that explain an outcome or result. The number of votes, clicks, time in days, weeks, months, or years, and money are a few simple examples of quantitative data.

In addition to explaining causality, quantitative research highlights important variations in groupings, demographics, and user behavior trends.

To effectively conduct a quantitative study, consider these factors:

  1. Use organized research techniques (such as surveys) to gather data.
  2. Obtain a sample size sufficient for your analysis.
  3. Be able to replicate the same outcomes under identical circumstances (research reliability).

The benefits of quantitative research are:

  1. It’s generally simple to gather a large sample size.
  2. When random sampling is prioritized, quantitative research is less biased.
  3. Quantitative research is realistic and aims to validate a hypothesis.

The following are some drawbacks of quantitative research:

  1. When there is no reference point, it might be difficult to comprehend the results of a quantitative study.
  2. The full picture is only partially revealed.
  3. Possibility of biases and manipulation.

Instead of employing the complete target population, a sample group is typically used in quantitative research. The research’s findings are then generalized to include the opinions of the entire population. This suggests that the opinions of a selected group of study participants are regarded as representative of those of the public.

They are viewed as representative of the entire population, even though their opinions may be slanted or false.

What is Qualitative Research?

The opposite of quantitative research, qualitative research entails gathering and interpreting non-numerical data. It can be utilized to gain an in-depth understanding of a topic, come up with fresh concepts, and understand user behavior.

Qualitative data used in usability testing can be text, audio, or video files. The information describes the background of particular activities and is not numerical.

In usability testing, a few of the most popular techniques for gathering qualitative data are:

  • Observations: Documenting or watching how users complete the exam to learn what they noticed, heard, or experienced.
  • Interviews: Directly questioning individuals in a one-on-one setting.
  • Focus groups: Questioning a small group of people in a conversational situation.
  • Surveys: Distributing questionnaires with open-ended questions.
  • Unmoderated user feedback: Some websites, such as Poll the People, require participants to give written feedback on the task or question.

You’ll need an experienced researcher who is familiar with data collecting and analysis if you’re going to collect manual data through focus groups, surveys, or interviews.

The advantages of a qualitative strategy are:

  1. Explains the “why” behind the results.
  2. Offers flexibility.
  3. Despite the lack of a specific measurement scale, it gives you valuable insights.

The drawbacks of a qualitative strategy are:

  1. Using a potentially insufficiently large sample size.
  2. Qualitative data can be ruined easily.
  3. Participants’ right to remain anonymous is not entirely assured.

Although qualitative research continues to be useful in identifying problem areas, its true power lies in highlighting potential solutions. You start to see potential solutions to the issues you’re trying to solve when you understand user behavior and opinions.

Even if you are not aware of it, you probably already utilize qualitative insights to shape your decisions. This would include a peer review or just asking a colleague what they feel about your landing page.

Why You Need Both

The quickest response to the question of whether it is possible to mix qualitative and quantitative research is a big YES!

Usability testing that uses both qualitative and quantitative data can be complementary and be an effective research method. Depending on where you are in the design process, different types of data have a different value.

When you are in the design or creative stages of development, qualitative testing is helpful because it will enable you to validate decisions, pinpoint problems, and make adjustments.

Although quantitative testing is helpful throughout the entire design process, it can have a greater influence later on, when a product is about to publish or is being used. You might wish to monitor which landing page receives more visitors or how the modifications you made an impact the user experience.

While each method has advantages and disadvantages, you are not required to choose one over the other. To understand the “what” and “why”, utilize both types of data. Quantitative testing can only show you if the measures you track are increasing or decreasing, not why. The most crucial aspect of a usability test may be the “why,” and qualitative data might help answer that question.

The best usability studies include quantitative and qualitative data to completely understand the user experience, efficiency, and to identify any problems or design flaws.

How to Get Both in One Test

There are many usability testing tools available, but few provide both quantitative and qualitative results in one test. One of the platforms that does is Poll the People, whose easy-to-understand results dashboard provides users with the data and the reasoning for the results. After a test is finished, a table with the percentage of users who preferred one design over the other is displayed, along with the precise number of participants who selected each version.

Participants must also justify their choices and respond to the test questions. This is the qualitative data, which can be extremely helpful in uncovering valuable insights. You have the ability to filter votes for each option and understand exactly why users like or dislike a design or concept. You get a much clearer image of your users when you combine quantitative (statistics) and qualitative (reasons).

Conclusion

User testing techniques that are both qualitative and quantitative work together to fully understand the effectiveness of the test, preferences of the users, and help to create the best resources possible.

The more value you get out of your optimization process, the more you can improve it. In order to create a better business, it’s best to use a platform that provides you with qualitative and quantitative insights.

If you’re ready to start optimizing your business using the qualitative and quantitative research method, sign up for free with Poll the People and start testing today. If you want to see our test results head to our example test page.

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