I never really enjoyed Maths until I began my career in User Experience (UX).
Over the years, I have had the pleasure of working in many differently formed teams, but my favourites have always been with those that consist of data analysts. Honestly. Their ability to obsess over numbers amazes me. I used to observe them, in their heightened state of spreadsheet frenzy, and feel grateful that I wasn’t tasked with the demands of daily interpretation.
Why did I enjoy working with this type of person so much? Well, I love surrounding myself with problem solvers. However, whilst I was a little envious of their focus, it would at times concern me. On occasion, if I dared whisper the prospect of tallying up their findings with some qualitative insight, I’d be met with confusion. Why on earth would we do that when we had all the findings we needed? The numbers told us what was going on and we could easily identify trends and behavior. C’mon Leah, these would be analyzed in order to inform next steps.
It was all we needed, right?
Time and time again, I witnessed frustrated Product Owners reiterating designs that eventually offered little or no benefit to the business – or the user.
The data was telling us what was going on, but it wasn’t telling us why it was happening.
Enter Qualitative Methodologies
Many of you may wonder why I was met with such negativity when qualitative methodologies were proposed.
The answer is simple.
Like other things in life, the concept of qualitative research has its stigmas. It’s seen as long, cumbersome and most important to note: expensive. Yes, there may have been a time when protective researchers would scurry off into their corners (or labs), conduct their expensive and time consuming research and only share it with the rest of the team when they were ready. (Sadly, there are some organizations that still work like this, but it’s becoming rarer.)
A more collaborative culture is certainly the norm now, especially as so many businesses have moved towards a more agile and lean approach.
So what does this mean? Well, nowadays, research often happens at any stage of the product developmental cycle, and can be used rather nicely in conjunction with data and other quantitative methodologies.
Imagine you are testing 3 landing pages: A, B and C. B is winning, but you don’t know why. Perhaps you’ve all placed bets and formed hypotheses. How will you find out? A very useful thing to do is to recruit users to review these separate 3 landing pages (while they are live) and gain their feedback. This way you can have your cake and eat it. You already know what is going on and soon you will have the whys! Then make sure that you learn from your findings, you share them with everyone in the team and encourage your Product Owner to reapply them later on, if appropriate.
To conclude, in UX, there are a lot of different ways to work and if you buy into the user-centered design approach fully, it’s pretty hard to do something the wrong way around. However, what I do feel is wrong, is to continuously rely solely on one methodology in the hope that it will improve business metrics and create a better user experience for the audience. Unfortunately, I feel that this is happening more and more with the buzz and trendiness of big data and the huge rise of software that seems to increase this dependence.
(Lead image: Depositphotos)