Which One is Best?
Qualitative and quantitative research have distinct strengths and limitations for website optimization - useful on their own, but most powerful when used in combination.
Quantitative research provides “input” data in the form of metrics, such as task completion rates or task times. Web analytics have a lot to offer to the site manager. With analytics, you can see how real users move from page to page when they’re on your website, or how engaged users are in one referring channel of traffic compared to another.
Qualitative research typically provides the initial “clues” about issues with user experience and helps answer the what question. However, it typically isn’t particularly good at answering the why question. For example, if the task completion rate is low, why would this be?
In short, analytics can help us understand what to pay attention to, but frequently needs to be augmented with qualitative data to provide the full picture and actionable insights. Qualitative research, such as usability testing, can help take us beyond what is wrong, to identify how and why a given feature or workflow is hard or easy to use.
Together, usability testing and analytics are a dynamite duo. Between the two, you can provide focused, user-specific recommendations. Here’s a great video from UX leaders NNGroup. It’s a quick video, less than 3 minutes long, and loaded with insight.
Tips for translating UX issues found in analytics into user research. Analytics tell you what customers are doing, but not why they are doing it. Pairing analytics and user research will provide you with clearer answers.
Main photo by Ben Kolde on Unsplash.