The right approach to combine the qualitative vs quantitative data research can help you shift through user data to optimize your website design.
For years — perhaps too long, in fact — website UX/UI experts have pointed to
quantitative data to try and explain how users are interacting with web pages and
how those pages can be optimized to eliminate confusion, reduce roadblocks users
may face, and optimize CTA buttons for the highest conversion rates.
Those quantitative data include easy points to collect such as time on page, scroll
depth, bounce rate, conversion rates, and click-through rates. Each of these factors
can be neatly put into a spreadsheet and analyzed against each other, against other
pages on the site, and against the competition.
The problem is, knowing those data does not tell you how to actually change the
page. If “Contact us now” does not work, will “Contact us” or “Contact now” be
better? If the “About us” section is not gaining viewers, should it be placed higher or
lower in the page design hierarchy? Traditionally, the way to find out has been to
move the button or the section, wait, collect data, and then compare the before and
after results. Interesting, but wow, you’re in it for the long haul, aren’t you? What
you need is the full story.
Qualitative vs Quantitative Data UX: What’s the difference?
Quantitative user research data is research that yields numerical results: clicks,
minutes/seconds, etc. Qualitative data is data that is not easy to put into a
How you gather and utilize each of them will depend on your research objectives. Don’t
underestimate either type of research, as both can offer valuable insight that can
guide your design process and create useful outcomes.
Examples of quantitative data
- How many clicks?
- How much time spent on the page?
- Bounce rate
- Scroll depth
Benefits of quantitative user research
Quantitative user research data is great to collect and analyze because it is
relatively easy to get and investigate. Because the data are objective, it is less
likely that human bias will cloud the collection and interpretation. Quantitative data
are also easy to present in the form of pie charts and bar graphs. Hence clients would
prefer to see hard statistics as it will be easily linked to key performance
indicators as a means of justifying investment and time spent on future projects.
Qualitative UX research: What is it?
Qualitative UX research is the collection of non-numerical data which may include
opinions, behaviors, feelings, or motivations. Collecting this can give UX designers
an in-depth look at human behavior and its patterns.
There are easy and hard ways to collect qualitative user research. Hard ways
include testing sessions, user surveys, interviews, and observations. Easy ways
include employing tools like FullSession’s heatmap, which tracks mouse movements
to illustrate movement on the page, hovering over buttons, hover time, hover time
to click time, and more — key insight into understanding how your customer
digitally engages with pages.
Qualitative data: What are its benefits?
The collection and analysis of qualitative data can yield incredible insight into how users interact with your pages, where there are hang-ups, where misplacing of CTA buttons might occur.
Some have likened it to a “thinking out loud” data collection approach that gives designers insight into the mind of the person using a page, how that page is used, and what sort of response they have to it. This is your key to full story web analytics.
Interactive heat maps for qualitative and quantitative data
Interactive user experience heat maps like the one offered by fullsession.io can be
used to smooth user experiences and boost your understanding of a customer’s
digital engagement with a web page. Session recordings can track clicks, taps,
mouse movements, and hovering to visualize user frustration points and help you
improve a site’s digital experience.
Heat map data can be displayed in different ways, including:
- Click maps: Highlight where users click the mouse or tap on mobile devices
- Scroll maps: Highlight where users scroll on a page
- Move maps: Highlight user mouse movement without clicking
Five ways to use a heat map
A user heat map report is a lot like having a UX/UI analyst peering over the
shoulders of your users. Here’s how you can use findings from the heat map:
- Optimize your site for mobile and desktop: Segregate user data by device
then compare mobile and desktop heat maps to see if one segment is
missing an important CTA or if there are differences in behavior
- Spot problem clicks: Some users click on elements like highlighted text or
images because they expect it to contain links. On a heat map, this can be
used to show common click patterns and spot incorrect links, then fix the
problem by adding links or modifying unimportant elements to make them
- Measure how far users scroll: No one making it to the bottom? Stuff your
unimportant links there and move the important elements to the top.
- Find CTA buttons that work: The heat map will show which generate the most
traffic and which are ignored or not found.
- Find which designs work best: Data from heat maps can be useful when it
comes time to redesign web pages.
The bottom line: qualitative and quantitative data
As you’ve seen, both quantitative and qualitative data research can yield important insights,
and while both are helpful, to gather a broad view of how your sites are used, the
two should be paired and analyzed in concert.
Conducting both qualitative vs quantitative data research helps you form theories
about how your pages are used and then supplies metrics to back that up. Using
one type can be informative, but may generate unanswered questions and vague or
even false data. When used in tandem, the “where,” “how long,” and “how many”
questions can help you answer your “why” questions.
Ready to learn more about qualitative data and understand how you could use it to optimize your
website? Contact fullsession.io today for a free demo.