All About Website Usability Blog – Holly Phillips

Qualitative vs Quantitative Research
October 1, 2009, 3:14 am
Filed under: usability basics, usability testing

Primary market research tools fit into two broad research categories: QUALITATIVE and QUANTITATIVE. The objectives of the research will dictate which type of research is most appropriate. A common approach is to start a project using qualitative research to gain understanding, and following this with quantitative research to quantify or test the results.
Qualitative Research

Typically qualitative research is used when the objective is to:

  • identify
  • explore
  • understand
  • inquire

Qualitative research, in general, involves more personal techniques with a smaller set of respondents. Focus groups, in-depth interviews (in-person or by phone), customer visits, and other similar techniques are typical for conducting qualitative research.

Quantitative Research

On the other hand, quantitative research techniques should be used if the objective is to

  • test
  • estimate
  • determine
  • quantify
  • rank order

Quantitative research, in general, involves interviewing enough respondents to be able to extrapolate the results to the market as a whole. Statistical significance will drive the number of respondents required.

Although the above refers mainly to Market Research, it is also applicable to usability testing.  The goals of your particular usability questions will determine whether qualitative or quantitative research is the best choice.


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