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What is a Qualitative and Quantitative Research?

education Aug 07, 2022

Qualitative and Quantitative research are both vital aspects of a UX/UI designer's duties, and both have a time and place for their use. This depends on the outcome a UX/UI designer is looking for when conducting research. Broken down, the words mean quality-based research and large quantity-based research. 


Before starting a project, a UX/UI design researcher has a few things to consider:

  • What are we trying to find out?
  • What research methods will we use?  
  • How will we gather participants? 
  • When will the research take place? 


What is Qualitative Research?

Qualitative research focuses on the quality of research being done to reach a specific goal or understanding of a product. Think of this as experimental research or descriptive research. This is normally done in a controlled environment to gain knowledge on a specific aspect of the subject being looked at for results.

Qualitative research is usually done on a subject-by-subject basis, using specific methods such as:

  • Experimental Research
  • Surveying 
  • Observation


What is Quantitative Research?

This type of research is done on a larger scale, with less specific expectations than qualitative research. This type of research, while using less specific expectations, usually yields multiple different results that can then be used to impact more research or a product in the future.


The types of research done when using quantitative research are similar to qualitative research:

  • Experimental Research
  • Surveying 


Although the way research is conducted is similar, the results vary. The best way to understand this is to focus on their limitations.


Limitations of Qualitative Research


  • Each person used in qualitative research is different: This means that people are always going to run into different problems, and using small amounts of people for a subject, with extensive work, results may vary so much that correlation is complex to come by.
  • This is a lengthy process: Because it takes so long to conduct this type of research, it may feel as if the results are spread, similar to the last point, making the results seem more complex but highly detailed. These problems are solved in Quantitative research due to the number of people being tested on a subject and comparing their results.



Limitations to Quantitative Research:


  • Lacks context: There is no interpersonal understanding or additional understanding t the results. The people being tested can’t or don't have the option to give their two cents on the question “Why?”
  • Variability in data quality: A ton of people are being tested on a subject, so that data is going to be all over the place, with tons of outliers.



When to use Qualitative Research?

Qualitative research should typically be done when time is on your side. In terms of UX/UI design, this would typically be done to get a case-by-case in-depth understanding of users' experience when using a product. This would be used when you want to know the user experience from their point of view with details that come directly from the user. If you have a new demo for a website, and before time and effort are put into finalizing it to where it is useable, you would want to know if users found the product confusing. If it was confusing, you want to know exactly what is confusing and what could make it more user-friendly; therefore, using qualitative research would provide researchers or, in this case, UX/UI designers, the opportunity to dive deeper into that information.


When to use Quantitative Research?

Quantitative research would be used when trying to discover similar aspects of a product as qualitative research, but in this case, the user's word is not necessary. For example, users may take a survey to show where they felt more confused than at other points when using a product, and based on the wide variety of research being done, the UX/UI designer can make changes where trends pop up. A great time to use this is when time is not on a designer's side, or perhaps they can not sit down with each person on a case-by-case basis. 


Both quantitative research and qualitative research yield great results, it just depends on time, the number of people you want to use in research, and the outcome you are looking for through the research. They are both handy to the UX/UI designer and are a part of UX/UI everyday life.


Want to learn more about UX/UI design? Schedule a free mentor call today!



Trenton Carlson is a journalist, content writer, and aspiring airline pilot. He likes his avocados baked with an egg in the hole where the pit goes.

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