Qualitative data is non-numerical data describing qualities and characteristics that can be collected or recorded.
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Collecting qualitative data is imperative to gain human insight and learn more about your users. Here are some methods your team should use to deepen your understanding of your target users.
User interviews are a surefire method to collect user feedback and earn qualitative data to enhance your teams' knowledge of your customer. User interviews are a form of UX research that helps you gather information about your user on a certain topic, including the use of a system or product, behaviors and habits, preferences, and more. The list goes on.
Although surveys and questionnaires are typically considered quantitative data, they become qualitative when you ask users open-ended questions where they can freely communicate their thoughts. Researchers can gather information about users' behaviors and perceptions when asking open-ended questions rather than close-ended questions. For example, an open-ended question may be, "How would you describe your experience using our product?"
Related reading: Open ended vs closed ended questions
Focus groups are what you may consider a “group brainstorm”—when a moderator effectively gathers information from multiple subjects at once and generates broad overviews of issues or concerns related to the demographics represented. These offer a lot of flexibility and can be done in person or online.
Qualitative data enables deeper analysis of users' thoughts and perspectives through probing questions that enhance researchers' knowledge about their users. Researchers can understand how customers think. They can know why customer decided to purchase, or not buy a product and whether or not customers find their product valuable.
On the other hand, qualitative data can be time-consuming. Researchers need time to analyze and document the data, and test participants need time to build familiarity with the user researchers to provide in-depth answers. Additionally, you can't verify qualitative data. Users' opinions are their own, and you're unable to check the objectivity of a statement.