11
Nov
validity venn diagram

Qualitative Research does not have to feel fuzzy

User research comes in two main forms, qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative data is highly contextual and describes attitudinal and behavioral information about people (assuming we are studying people and not bears). Quantitative data is measured, counted, and easily shown in classic formats like pie charts, grids, and bar charts. Business people and engineers love the quantitative because it is concrete and quickly obtained, especially if you have someone visualize it effectively for you.

Even though qualitative data is not concrete like quantitative data, it can be collected in such a way that does not feel fuzzy. It is important to not push off qualitative data because it seems hard to use and obtain. It is where all the design gold nuggets present themselves. I have never done this type of research with only validating my gut instincts. I am always surprised by things I learn doing this. This very experience tells me it must done to get all the good stuff, the competitive opportunities companies need to differentiate. If you are going to be valuable and set apart from the rest, you need this as your launching pad.

So how have I made this kind of information less fuzzy?

The answer comes in one word – Triangulation.

There are many methods of research. Understanding what methods are and how to choose the right ones for the goal in mind is key. So you notice that the word triangulation has the “tri” prefix, well that will tell you that I am about to say that you need 3 methods to work together in a complementary way to achieve the validity you need so you can really lean on it during design. It is important to understand the methods but in lieu of that, below is a handy quadrant that helps the lay person see how the different methods can be selected appropriately.
quadrant-blog

You can see that the various methods give you different kinds of data. It is important to choose the methods that compliment each other and avoid redundancy. The rationale for this triangulation approach is the thought that if three different methods reveal anything that trends (give you 3 points), you have something valid.

I chose an example of 3 methods to help illustrate this concept. Interviews, Email Surveys, and Web Analytics can make a complementary approach to understanding the user base. In this case, an application or website has to exist already. You cannot get Web Analytics without it. Interviews are a good choice if you have access to the user populations that represent the user base. Email Surveys are also helpful when you have a large email list you can send. Web Analytics measure behaviors and have a quantitative source with a large N. Interviews give you a small N but have rich qualitative data that deliver behavioral and attitudinal data. Email Surveys can potentially give you a large N if you get high response rates and can give you qualitative attitudinal data.

Experience will help give you the ability to design these studies effectively. When you know you are using them together, you can design them all in a way to give the you knowledge of whether the overlaps exist. As seen in the venn diagram below, when the overlaps present themselves, you know it is real and definitely NOT fuzzy.
Venn-blog

When you know it is valid, it is the key to truth about the people you are serving with your product. That truth is gold.

No Comments

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About Us

We uncover key user insights and translate those into effective messages, designs and motion media solutions that resonate with your audience.

nnwebsiteimages_about us

Our Services

Research

Why? We help you understand what makes your customers tick.

Participant Observation
Contextual Inquiry
In-depth Interviews
Focus Groups
Facilitated Ideation

Design

How? We help you create  the innovative design to implement.

Storyboarding
Journey Mapping
Interaction Design
Design Thinking Workshops
Visual Design

Evaluate

What? Let us help you with the finishing touches.

AB Testing
Usability Testing
Expert Evaluations
Card Sorting
Web Analytic Analysis

Show

See? We can help show your greatness through motion media.

Illustration
Motion Media
Tutorial Development
Websites
Animation

Research The Why

We believe the best solutions come when you understand people from their frame of reference. We can give you the tools that empower you to make informed decisions.

  • Personas (Representations of User Types)
  • Strategic Roadmaps
  • Messaging Themes
  • Key Research Findings

whySimplified1

TheHowImage_medium

DesignThe How

We help you create effective and research inspired designs. Your project is special and your design should fit your goal, not a cookie cutter pattern.

  • Wireframes
  • Interactive Prototypes
  • Composites
  • Storyboards

Evaluate The What

In a constantly changing environment, your product needs to stay current. Let us help you polish your product to improve the customer experience.

  • Usability test findings/recommendations
  • Journey Map
  • AB test findings

 whattransparent_what

SeeitImage

Show – See It

In the current social media climate, people are in a hurry and tend to scan information in text form. We can provide you tools to communicate it.

  • Product Demos
  • Video Tutorials
  • Educational Clips
  • Promotional Campaigns
  • Websites

Expertise

Cynthia MorneweckPrincipal Design Strategist+
I'm drawn to the challenge and impact of computer-human system complexity. Whether in healthcare, education, or community service, I'm passiRead more
Lori Westphal PhDPrincipal Research Strategist+
I work with clients to identify their business needs and determine the appropriate analytical approach to solving their problems. Through myRead more

Our Clients

Governor's Office of Student Achievement

Missouri University Health Care

WASSlogoSquare_Square

clients-02

kragor orthodontics

clients-03

Our Blog

0

What makes your customers tick?

As social creatures that operate within in a broader social context, we are all impacted by multiple social forces: socio-economic status, g
Learn more
0

Design Thinking: What is it?

In the last decade, I have heard quite a bit about the concept of Design Thinking from friends, colleagues, twitter, linkedIn, and RSS feeds
Learn more
0

Understand people – Technology will follow

I love technology. I have been working with and around technology my whole life. My parents are academics in engineering so as a child I pla
Learn more
0

Climate Change, GMOs and You

“The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” --Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist Vaccines, globa
Learn more
validity venn diagram0

Qualitative Research does not have to feel fuzzy

User research comes in two main forms, qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative data is highly contextual and describes attitudinal and beh
Learn more
0

5 Tips to Jumpstart Problem-Solving

Ever feel like you have the hit the idea wall? You are working through a problem and at some point you just feel blocked? This happens to me
Learn more
0

When conflict is actually agreement

Have you ever been in a meeting watching two people debate over a point with lots of “energy” and they are actually in complete agreement? T
Learn more

Contact Us