Qualitative Vs Quantitative UX Research Method: 2024 Complete Guide
UX Design
September 27, 2023
3 mins read

A Complete Guide To Qualitative Vs Quantitative UX Research Methods

Qualitative Vs Quantitative UX Research Methods
Difference between Qualitative and Quantitative Research in UX

How can we build this product?

What can we do to improve this product?

Why are the conversion rates so low?

These are some of the burning questions that every organization faces. In today’s competitive world, understanding consumer behaviour is the quintessential ingredient for the recipe of success.

After all, users are at the heart of any experience of a product, and up to 90% of users are reported to leave using an application due to bad performance. Billions of dollars can be lost when businesses do not prioritize UX Research and turn to the guesswork game.

What is UX Research?

Also known as user experience research, it involves the study of user needs and preferences. While developing any product, platform, or service, it is imperative to understand the user's behaviour. With the help of UX Research, businesses can understand the different aspects of product development and customize it in a way that aligns with the user's needs. This process also helps in improving the product.

With the growing complexities of consumer demand and the rising need for customized products, understanding these changing trends is the need of the hour. One of the ways is to research and analyse consumer behaviour that can help in boosting experience, thus driving conversion.

Studies have proved that a good user experience can be rewarding to companies. Hence, companies are now actively investing in harnessing the power of UX Research. Moreover, with this surge of new technologies like ML and AI, it has become easier to understand the nuances of consumer preferences, thus ensuring better products and services.

 UX research has two subsets:

  • Qualitative Research
  • Quantitative Research

Qualitative and quantitative research methods are both crucial in understanding user experience (UX) that translates into informed design decisions. Each method offers unique insights and benefits, and often, they are used together to provide a comprehensive understanding of user needs and behaviours.  This blog takes you through both these concepts and will unfold its key features and applications.

What is Quantitative Research in UX?

Quantitative UX research method
Quantitative research

Source: Image of Quantitative Research in UX

As the name highlights, this method of UX research focuses on tangible parameters to understand human behavior and assess the usability of a product. The focus of quantitative research in UX is to collect quantifiable data from a large sample and use it to analyze the trends in the market.

Goal:

To measure user behaviour, preferences, choices, and experiences by analyzing numerical data.

Questions:

It gives answers to questions such as "what" and "how much." For example:

What percentage of users were able to complete the task in under 2 minutes?

How many errors did the users face while completing this task?

Key Features of Quantitative Research in UX

Data collection

Collecting data is a critical aspect of quantitative research. Hence, the researchers deploy different methods like surveys, A/B testing, and others to collect the data. This data is usually in the form of clicks or time spent on a webpage or product or satisfaction rates.

Focus on Measurable Data

The focus of this method is on collecting quantifiable data from a large set, such that this information can be analyzed and help in deriving accurate results.

Benefits

Since quantitative research depends on measurable data, the results are more authentic and give substantial support for a change or improvement.

Large sample sizes

The method focuses on a larger sample size, which ensures that the results are statistically significant. Hence, we can generalize the results to the whole population.

‍Limitations of Quantitative Research in UX

Although quantitative research in UX can help in giving measurable outcomes, it cannot provide support for why the consumer is behaving in a particular way. To get a more sustainable proof, it is important to follow a combined strategy of using qualitative research methods.

It lacks the depth and context that the insights generated from the qualitative UX research bring to the table.Overall, quantitative research is a powerful tool for UX professionals.

By using data to measure user behaviour, you can create products that are not only useful but also enjoyable to use.

Some of the Common Quantitative UX Research Methods

Here's a breakdown of some popular quantitative UX research methods, including their descriptions, features, and examples:

1. Surveys

This helps in gathering feedback through structured questions to quantify the preferences, opinions, or experiences of users with a product. However, it is important to mention that this method can also be used in qualitative testing based on the kind of questions it asks. For example, close-ended questions can be a part of the quantitative research method. Conversely, open-ended surveys allow users to provide detailed, narrative responses to gather their feedback and understand their sentiments, thus falling in the category of qualitative research.

Features

  • It focuses on a large audience
  • The data points are measurable and hence is easy to analyze

Examples

  • It helps in measuring user satisfaction with a new product, service, or website design
  • Understand the interests of the consumer
  • Tracking the consumer behaviour pertaining to a particular design

2. A/B testing

This compares two or more design variations to determine which performs better (leading to higher user engagement or conversion rates).

Features

  • It highlights the impact of specific design changes.
  • Optimize user experience based on real user behaviour.
  • Quantify the improvement in conversion rates or other metrics.

Examples

  • Test two different headlines on a landing page to see which one drives more clicks.
  • Compare two checkout form designs to see which one reduces cart abandonment rates.
  • Experiment with different button colours to see which one gets more users to sign up.

3. Website Analytics

Understanding website analytics can unfold several patterns, like user behaviour on the website, engagement rate, clicks, and conversion rates. All these insights can help highlight trends and patterns.

Features

  • Get a detailed insight into the website traffic.
  • Identify user engagement
  • Highlights the popular trend on the website
  • Assess the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.

Examples

  • Find out the bounce rate of different web pages
  • Highlight the popular content amongst the user

These are some of the common quantitative research methods. Using them, the researcher can gain valuable insights into consumer behavior that can help in improving the overall experience.‍

What is Qualitative Research in UX?

guide to qualitative UX research method
Qualittative research

Source: Image of Qualitative Research in UX

Unlike quantitative research, qualitative research in UX design focuses on understanding the reason behind the consumer's behaviour or preference.

It focuses on collecting descriptive and non-numerical data points such as the motivation behind the purchase decision, the need, and the thought process of the consumers. Analogous to quantitative research, the qualitative methods force the subjective experience of the user.

Goal:

To find out the underlying motivations, emotions, and perceptions of users.

Questions:

It gives answers to questions such as "why" and "how." For example:

What challenges did the user face while signing up?

(This answers the question: Why the user took a longer time to sign up/ couldn't sign up)

What improvements could improve your experience of the app?

(This answers the question: How can we improve the user experience of the app)

Key Features of Qualitative Research in UX:

Focus on the "Why"

As mentioned above, quantitative research deals with numbers, but qualitative research focuses on addressing the why behind the behavior of consumers. It helps the researcher understand the thought processes and emotions that drive the decisions of the consumers.

Uncover User Needs and Experiences

The qualitative research method helps to understand the needs of the consumers. It also sheds light on the challenges and overall experience of the consumers, which eventually helps build a product or service that is in coherence with the demands of the consumers. It relies on various methods like usability testing and interviews to gather this information.

In-depth Exploration

Understanding the nuances of consumer behavior is the foundation of qualitative research in UX. Focusing on smaller and more targeted users helps the researcher unfold the depth of a specific topic and gain detailed insight.

Flexibility

While using the qualitative research methods in UX, the researchers have flexibility in their approach.

Sample Size

The sample size is much smaller, typically till the saturation point, where the responses from the participants get repetitive. According to the NN Group, the recommended sample size so far has been between 5 to 50. The relatively smaller sample size allows for an in-depth exploration of user experiences.

Data Analysis

Thematic analysis, content analysis, or qualitative coding are used to identify the patterns, themes, and insights from the data collected.

Some of the Common Qualitative UX Research Method

Qualitative UX research methods help you understand the "why" behind user behavior. Here's a breakdown of some popular methods, including their descriptions, features, and examples:

1. User Interviews

This involves one-on-one conversations with users to understand their preferences, motivations, and experiences.

Features

  • Get in-depth insight into the user needs
  • Highlight the reason behind user behavior
  • Gain rich, detailed insights into user needs and motivations.
  • Uncover unspoken thoughts and feelings that might not appear in surveys.
  • Tailor questions to specific user segments.

Examples

  • Interviewing e-commerce shoppers to understand their purchase decision process.
  • Talking to new mobile app users to identify onboarding pain points.
  • Discussing users' mental models for a complex software program.

2. Usability Testing

This involves observing the users as they interact with the product to find usability issues and gather feedback.

Features

  • Get first-hand information on how the user interacts with the designs
  • Find out if the user is facing any confusion while using the website

Examples

  • Testing the checkout flow of potential customers
  • Watch how the user is completing a particular task within the app

3. Focus Group

This brings together a small group of participants to discuss their attitudes and perceptions regarding a product.

Features

  • Gain insights from group dynamics and user interactions.
  • Identify common themes and concerns among a specific user segment.
  • Spark new ideas and areas for exploration based on user feedback.

Examples

  • Conducting a focus group with new parents to understand their needs for a baby monitoring app.
  • Gathering feedback from experienced gamers on a new game concept.
  • Discussing user expectations and pain points related to a new financial service platform.

By using these qualitative methods, UX researchers can build a comprehensive understanding of user needs, motivations, and behaviors.

Limitation of Qualitative UX Research Method

Such insights cannot be statistically validated and generalized to the larger population.

Summary of Qualitative Research vs Quantitative Research Methods

Parameters

Qualitative UX Research

Quantitative UX Research

Type of Data

Focuses on non-numerical data.

Measurable and tangible data.

Focus

In-depth understanding

More generalized approach

Method of Data Collection

Interview, Focus Group, Usability Testing.

Surveys, A/B Testing, Website Analytics

Benefits

Gives the reason behind the consumer behaviour and also highlights the user perception and motivation behind the decision.

Gives statistical validity and tangible reasons to support the decision and highlights the trend and patterns.

Limitations

It gives a more subjective outcome, and the process is time-consuming.

This method lacks depth and is not able to highlight the nuances of consumer behaviour. Also, there is a possibility of data biases.

Final Verdict: Qualitative vs Quantitative Research, Which is Better?

Both quantitative and qualitative research in UX have their pros and cons, offering the researcher different options. The right approach would be following mixed-methods research.

It is necessary for companies to recognize which methodology will be the most beneficial to their product success by asking the right questions. When successful UX research is conducted, it can lead to products and experiences that resonate with the diverse needs and stories of your users and user journey.

Level-up Your UX research with Alien!

At The Alien Design, we take the design experience and virtual presence a notch above. Our team of creative minds is always bubbling with new ideas and follows an innovative approach that converts your vision into reality. Our approach of blending together innovativeness, creatively, and technical excellence provides outstanding results every time.  Connect with us today.

A solution-driven person with a keen interest in solving problems in digital products through designing. I have worked with 15+ clients in successfully delivering digital products such as Saint-Gobain, HDFC, elgi Ultra, LuLu Group, IIFL, Stockal etc.. worked in 10+ digital products across domains such as Network security, Fin-tech, E-commerce, Healthcare, Recruitment, Real estate etc.. Research, Ideation, Wireframing, Designing, Prototyping, testing and delivery are my bread and butter.

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FAQ

What is the goal of quantitative research in UX?

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The goal of quantitative research in UX is to measure user behavior, preferences, choices, and experiences by analyzing numerical data.

What types of questions does quantitative research answer?

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Quantitative research provides answers to questions such as "what" and "how much." For example, it can determine the percentage of users able to complete a task in under a certain time frame or the number of errors users face during a task.

What are some common methods used in quantitative UX research?

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Common methods include surveys, A/B testing, and behavioral data analysis. Surveys gather feedback through structured questions, A/B testing compares design variations, and behavioral data analysis examines user actions within a digital product.

What is the goal of qualitative research in UX?

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The goal of qualitative research in UX is to uncover the underlying motivations, emotions, and perceptions of users.

How does qualitative research differ from quantitative research in terms of sample size and data analysis?

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Qualitative research typically involves a smaller sample size compared to quantitative research, allowing for in-depth exploration. Data analysis in qualitative research focuses on identifying patterns, themes, and insights through methods such as thematic analysis or content analysis.