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The magic of numbers

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by Jakob Biesterfeld

 

Companies have a need to understand user needs and behaviour. That’s why they run UX research. For many companies, UX research equals qualitative usability lab studies.

 

However, the risk of taking bad design decisions based on purely qualitative data is high. That’s why more and more companies gather and manage quantitative data and UX KPIs through online UX research studies.

 

Having discussed this with over 100 companies over the past year or so, I found 4 key reasons why more and more companies benefit from quantitative online UX research:

 

  1. Agility
    Analysing qualitative data and putting it into action takes time. If we can define appropriate KPIs, on which we can base design decisions, we can act much faster, integrate quantitative UX research in our agile design and development processes, and actually measure improvements in UX continuously.
  2. Comparisons
    Whenever we want to compare design A vs. design B, our own product vs. a competitor’s, old vs. new, target group X vs. target group Y, we revert to numbers. Comparison needs numbers and we can make design decision based on numbers. You can’t manage what you don’t measure.
  3. UX is more than Usability
    UX is not only about how usable a product is. It is also about opinions and emotions. Do users like a new design? Does it reflect our brand well? Will it be recommended to friends? The diversity of answers we get when we ask these questions requires large samples in order to find patterns.
  4. Communication
    Communicating numbers instead of qualitative data is not only easier when you speak with C-level or directors, but it will also help your colleagues, designers and developers to make informed decisions and to communicate clear design goals. UX researchers can connect their insights to other business KPIs such as the conversion rate of an online shop to make sure they are heard and their data is acted upon.

 

Online studies are quick, scalable, efficient and you can capture the users’ real context. Tools and technology are mature and easily available. Add the magic of numbers and the advantages of quantitative online UX research over lab research become obvious.