Chapter 3. Quantitative Research Methods

Above all else, show the data.

Edward Tufte

Now that we’ve introduced the various types of questions you’ll attempt to answer through your research efforts, we’ll discuss the two types of research found in product design: quantitative and qualitative research. This chapter and the next introduce the history, variations, and application of these two methods. All successful products rely on the integration of both quantitative and qualitative methods, and there is no silver bullet. Just as different methods require different skills, teams with a variety of skill sets are encouraged.

Quantitative Research by the Numbers

Quantitative research is simply defined as the study of what can be measured and observed. More specifically, quantitative research means the results will be consistent and generally agreed on by all parties involved. Your height and weight are quantifiable measurements, as they can be counted and measured against a standard scale. On the other hand, your personality is a qualitative measurement, as “nice,” “kind,” and “mean” are all subjective. We will talk more about qualitative research in Chapter 4.

On the Web and in the product space, quantitative measurements may include:

  • Bounce rates

  • Time on task

  • Conversion rates

  • Order size (number of items or their value)

  • Number of visitors to a site (physical or digital)

  • Average size of group

Where Do I Find Quantitative Research?

We have all encountered quantitative data, even if it was only in ...

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