Why You Should Never Ignore Qualitative Data

UX
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I recently started listening to Jared Spool’s UIE Podcast during my morning commute into the office. It’s perfect fodder for your brain to munch on when you have nothing better to do, so I wholly recommend it. A few days into listening, I came across Jared’s podcast with Erika Hall about team based research. In the podcast, Erika and Jared speak in depth about the benefits of fast paced, team research.

But there was one particular, small moment in the podcast that especially resonated with me — Jared laid out a wonderful, strikingly humorous scenario that explained why qualitative data is so important to collect and respect. I could relate all too well, having encountered several people who scoff at the notion of qualitative data. It had such an affect on me that I decided to bring Jared’s fictitious scenario to life with an illustration to show just how absurd downplaying qualitative data is.

Qualitative Data vs Quantitative Data

What’s the difference between qualitative data and quantitative data? Good question! In a nutshell, quantitative data is information that can be summarized in a numerical format — think survey results, landing page conversion rates, etc. Qualitative data, on the other hand, is descriptive data that is not in a numerical format — think interview transcripts, diary studies, and even human emotions.

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Collect all the data

Remember, numbers can’t tell the whole story. To obtain the most accurate picture of your users’ behaviors, you should collect both quantitative and qualitative data. Don’t let one user’s “near-death experience” drive the rest of your customers away.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section, and why you think qualitative data deserves more respect than it gets.


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