Qualitative Research

In UX, we often use qualitative research to gather insights or observations about users. This type of research is useful for discovering problems and determining design solutions.

Qualitative research is the methodology researchers use to gain deep contextual understandings of users via non-numerical means and direct observations. Researchers focus on smaller user samples—e.g., in interviews—to reveal data such as user attitudes, behaviors, hidden factors, and insights that guide better designs.

In a usability testing session, a researcher (called a “facilitator” or a “moderator”) asks a participant to perform tasks, usually using one or more specific user interfaces. While the participant completes each task, the researcher observes the participant’s behavior and listens for feedback.

Qualitative user research includes methods like user interviews and field studies and helps you collect qualitative data through the direct observation and study of participants. Qualitative data yields an understanding of people’s motivations, thoughts, and attitudes. This type of research is key to uncovering the ‘why’ behind actions and developing a deep understanding of a topic or problem.

Qualitative research gives you rich insights about the people, product, and problem you’re researching and helps you inform decision-making throughout the design and product development process.

  • Answers the question “Why?”
  • Provides rich insights about the people, the product, and the problem
  • Allows tight focus on small sample sizes
  • Develop a deep understanding of the topic or problem
  • Collected through direct observation or study