Qualitative

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In the early 2000s, I was helping improve the usability of an application for commodity traders. It was an app built for tablet computers. This was a decade before the iPad. We had a good idea about the functions and tasks the app was intended to support. But we didn't really know how traders actually used the app or what they wanted to accomplish with

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Observation is a key data collection technique for UX research. Observational research typically happens in the users' home, workplace, or natural environment and not in a lab or controlled setting. With this research, you can understand how people naturally interact with products and people and the challenges they face. It can provide inspiration and ideas for opportunities for improvement and innovation. While it may seem

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When we speak about a qualitative research study, it's easy to think there is one kind. But just as with quantitative methods, there are actually many varieties of qualitative methods. Similar to the way you can group usability testing methods, there are also a number of ways to segment qualitative methods. A popular and helpful categorization separate qualitative methods into five groups: ethnography, narrative, phenomenological,

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While we're known in the industry as a quantitative research firm, much of the research we do is actually a mixed-methods approach. That is, we mix both quantitative and qualitative methods to provide a comprehensive picture of the user experience. Such an approach answers "why" and "how much," among other things; answers difficult to get with a quantitative study alone. We like quantitative approaches, which

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We often talk of qualitative OR quantitative research. You needn't think of this as an either-or situation. You can often optimize customer research with a mix of the two. While it might seem unorthodox to mix seemingly different fields, it turns out to be a common practice. Mixing qualitative and quantitative methods is neither new nor controversial. In fact, there's a journal dedicated to mixed-method

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Facilitators in usability tests are highly variable. The results of many studies, including the well known Comparative Usability Evaluations (CUEs), have consistently shown that different usability facilitators are inconsistent in how they interact with participants in a usability lab, producing dissimilar results. What's more, testing more than a few participants a day leads to facilitator fatigue, introducing further variation even when a single facilitator runs

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Qualitative research is often used as a catch-all phrase to mean not to expect any "hard numbers" from research findings. While qualitative research is the collection and analysis of primarily non-numerical activities (words, pictures and actions), it doesn't mean you can't apply a structured approach to your research efforts. Usability testing is often characterized as a qualitative activity. Summarizing findings from watching participants in a

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There is an erroneous perception in the UX community that if your method is qualitative, then numbers somehow cannot or should not be used. These perceptions come from an informal practice that stems back to the beginning of the usability profession and continues through training programs and some UX experts. Unfortunately, this perception is misguided and can prevent perfectly good data from being used to

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The discerning usability analyst should employ a mix of both qualitative and quantitative methods when discovering usability problems. The risks of relying heavily on a qualitative approach can lead to a severe misdiagnosis especially when usability problems are difficult to detect. This article is a response to Nielsen’s "The Risk of Quantitative Studies" and shows how the problems voters had with the “butterfly-ballot” in the

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