Quantitative vs. Qualitative UX Research

In this guide we are going to walk you through the main differences between qualitative and quantitative UX research methods and give some examples.

Author: Daria Krasovskaya

Reviewed by:Marek Strba Marek Strba

Last update 13.07.2022

Most UX research methods can be divided into 2 groups: qualitative and quantitative.

What is qualitative research?

Qualitative research answers the “why” and “how” behind the user’s actions. It is usually conducted on a small number of testers, but it focuses on understanding their problems and the reason behind them in detail.

Qualitative research is often formative, meaning that it helps you get the understanding you need to make the right creative decisions.

quantitative vs qualitative research

What is quantitative research?

Quantitative research, on the other hand, helps you answer questions like “how many” and “how much”. It helps you collect numerical insights, assess the scope of a problem, evaluate design options, and track the user experience of a product over time.

Below, we list some typical qualitative and quantitative UX research methods. We say typical since a specific research method isn’t strictly bound to one type. Rather, the type is just one of several aspects of the research method. Some methods are more likely to be one type rather than the other. Sometimes, a research method even combines aspects of multiple types, making it a hybrid.

For example, usability testing may collect qualitative insights about why participants fail to complete a key goal in a web application. But an unmoderated usability testing study conducted online with enough respondents to be statistically significant can also help you tell how much of a problem this actually is.

quantitative vs qualitative research

Typical qualitative UX research methods:

  • User interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Usability testing
  • Session recording
  • Ethnographic field studies
  • Field studies
  • Tree testing
  • Diary studies

It also requires a larger number of participants in order to achieve statistical significance.

Typical quantitative UX research methods:

  • Card sorting
  • A/B testing
  • Five second testing
  • First click testing
  • Website analytics
  • Surveys
  • Eye-tracking studies