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Often times in our InterQ blog, we write about topics related to specific qualitative methodologies, such as focus groups. However, at InterQ, we also help companies with UX testing and UI design, so if you’re in that camp, this blog is for you. Enjoy!

Whether you do your own internal UX testing when designing and building apps or software, or if you outsource it, you will be confronted with the following question:

Quantitative test or qualitative?

Translation: Do we just look at our metrics and data – such as clicks and cart abandons – or should we actually round up some people and observe/talk to them?

See, in UX testing, both quantitative and qualitative methodologies are useful and necessary, but sometimes certain scenarios are better suited to one over the other. Oftentimes, design requires both. If you’re looking for a quick checklist to gauge whether quant or qual is the right approach, here are some guidelines to help you decide.

Questions to ask yourself before you decide on quant or qual in UX testing

If you wanted a quick summary of the best ways to decide between quant or qual for a specific problem, ask yourself this first:

Do you want to know what is happening or are you looking to learn why users are taking a particular action?”

The “what” question can be answered quantitatively. Your metrics should give you a pretty good idea on core stats, such as clicks on a particular page, traffic, referral sources, time of day, etc. Hopefully your team is keeping close tabs, at all times, on this data. Likely, with some digging, your team will also be able to find additional quantitative data about what is happening that will give you a fuller-picture of actions taken.

Now to the “why.”

Quantitative data will give you loads of stats and information, but what it doesn’t tell you is “why,” and – even more importantly – what else? What else did the user want to do but couldn’t? What information was the person seeking and couldn’t find? Clicks and heatmapping won’t tell you this, but qualitatively interviewing and observation will.

How to blend quant and qual for an optimal UX study

In an ideal world (if only!) designers and product teams would enlist qualitative assistance for new product design and tweaks, at every stage. If you have this luxury, here are a few easy ways to blend quant and qual to arrive at a better design for your users:

  • Have your data team look at funnel metrics. Where do there seem to be issues, in terms of people not taking the next action along the intended journey?
  • From these quant issues that pinpoint where problems are occurring, enlist a qualitative team to observe/ask people going through this specific step. This will help explain what is causing people to get frustrated or abandon an action.
  • Set up A/B tests. From qualitative input, design two or more scenarios and set up A/B quant testing to see what gets the most hits. For a well-rounded study, go back after the A/B test and interview people to understand their experience with both options. More specifically, seek to understand what else could be improved to further enhance the design and intended pathway.

Final pro tip: Outsource qual when possible

Our final tip for truly great quant and qual UX testing is to outsource the qualitative portion, whenever possible. Enlist your data team to pull metrics, and supply this to a trusted qualitative market research firm. Why? Quite simply because you know your product too well. You will ask questions through the lens of all of the meetings, interactions, and day-to-day work done on your product, and this narrows the field for what you should be exploring in the customer journey. A neutral firm is an objective source that can see your product through an outsiders’ perspective (much like your customers do), and ask questions that may either seem obvious to your team or not in your range of possibilities. Either way, a neutral research firm will bring a fresh perspective to UX testing that will help unlock new ways to design software and apps.

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