Qualitative vs. Quantitative Usability Testing Methods

Usability testing methods: Qualitative vs. quantitative usability testing

Reading Time: 9 minutesIf you’re in charge of creating a new product or feature for your company, you’re probably wondering how to make it as good as possible.

You want to ensure that your customers will love it and keep coming back for more. And that even if they don’t love it right away, they’ll be able to eventually figure out how to use it.

That’s where usability testing methods come in! Usability testing is a process that helps you determine how useful and easy to use your product is.

You can do this by asking people who have never seen or used your product before about their views, letting them use it while being recorded, and asking questions about their experience.

It gives you and your team lots of insight into how people interact with your product—and whether or not they’re having any difficulties with it!

Understanding data types – qualitative Vs quantitative data

What are qualitative and quantitative data types

While it’s tempting to think of qualitative data type as the “good” type of data, and quantitative as the “bad” type, there are actually many different ways in which you can use both types of information to help you make important decisions.

Qualitative data and quantitative data are both important in research studies. Qualitative information is the kind of information that can’t be quantified like opinions or feelings.

Quantitative is the kind of information that can be counted and measured, like the number of people who responded to a survey or how many miles they ran.

Let’s understand each data type.

Qualitative data

Qualitative data is used in usability testing to help determine whether a feature is used. It overviews how the feature works in practice and whether it’s effective at achieving its goals.

A common example of qualitative data is surveys. If you want to know if users like your new feature, you could ask them with a survey. It will help you gain deeper insights into their views during usability tests.

There are four main types of qualitative data:

  • Observation: This is collecting information by watching users perform tasks. Observation can be done in person or remotely, but it’s important to ensure you’re watching users who are representative of your target audience.
  • Survey: This is a questionnaire you ask participants to complete after completing a task or set of tasks. Surveys can be used for both quantitative and qualitative data collection.
  • Task logs: Task logs are notes you take during usability testing sessions so that you can look back at what happened during each session and see what went well, what didn’t go well, and how it could have gone better or worse if participants had used different strategies.
  • Debriefs: Debriefs occur after each session is completed when all team members review their notes (if they took any) and discuss what they’ve learned from each session before moving on to the next testing stage (e.g., recruiting more participants).

Quantitative data

Quantitative data is any data that can be measured, compared, and analyzed using numbers. Quantitative data is typically collected using surveys or other forms of research involving numerical responses from participants.

Quantitative usability testing has been defined as “a method of usability testing that involves measuring the degree to which users can perform tasks and then analyzing the results.”

In quantitative usability testing, participants are asked to complete tasks and rate their ease of use on a scale. The results are then analyzed to determine any problems with the interface.

Quantitative data types include:

  • Ratings are numeric data that reflect how well a participant performed a task (for example, 1-5 stars).
  • Opinion surveys: Opinion surveys are questions that ask participants their opinions about something (for example, “Do you like this product?”).

Qualitative usability testing

Following are the qualitative usability testing methods:

(1) Moderated testing

Moderated testing is a usability testing method in which test moderators observe and interact with participants during their testing sessions.

Moderators can ask questions about the task, provide guidance, and help participants understand the task. The moderator keeps the session on track and helps ensure that participants can complete the tasks successfully.

Moderated vs unmoderated testing

(2) Unmoderated testing

Unmoderated testing is a usability testing method in which participants are left alone to complete tasks without input from an outside source.

Participants have access to any materials they need to complete their tasks, such as instructions or manuals, but they are not given any additional information or assistance from a moderator or researcher.

(3) Tree maps

Tree testing is a method that helps you figure out which features are most important to users. It involves asking them to imagine the product as a tree and draw branches that connect different parts of the tree. Then, you can ask them why they made those branches and what they think they do.

Tree testing and card sorting method in UX

(4) Card sorting

Card sorting is another way of determining what features users think are most important. It involves giving users cards with words on them (like “search” or “save”) and asking them to put the cards into categories based on how similar they are in their minds.

The categories should be based on user behaviour patterns. For example, if you’re building a photo-sharing app, you might have a category for “photos taken with friends” or “photos taken at home.”

When should you choose qualitative usability testing methods?

When to choose qualitative methods

If you’re looking to improve the overall user experience of your product, qualitative usability testing methods are great for deciding whether or not people understand what your product does and what problems it solves for them. You can also use these methods to assess whether or not certain features are being used frequently.

You should use qualitative usability testing methods when:

  • Qualitative methods are a great start if you’re trying to validate your assumptions about why users are having trouble with your product or website. You can ask users why they feel frustrated or confused by certain aspects of your product and then use that information to inform future iterations.
  • You’re looking for qualitative feedback about users’ overall experience with your site or app. Quantitative data can be helpful here too, but qualitative methods are better suited for the job if you want a more in-depth understanding of how users engage with your product.
  • You can identify problems that need to be addressed before releasing your product to market, so you don’t have to go through rounds of revisions after launch (which could cost both time and money).
  • Your objective is to discover why a particular feature isn’t working as well as expected. This is helpful because it allows you to uncover problems before they become big issues later down the road!

Resources required to conduct qualitative usability testing

Resources for qualitative testing

There are a few resources that are required to run qualitative usability testing.

(1) Moderator

This person is responsible for running the tests and keeping them on track. They’ll also be responsible for ensuring that everyone in the room has an equal chance to speak about their experiences during the test and for keeping everyone moving along at a good pace so that you don’t waste too much time on anyone’s experience.

(2) Recorder

The recorder will take notes of what people say during the test so that later on, you have everything written down in one place when you’re analyzing your findings and preparing your report.

(3) Participants

There should be 5-6 participants per session (for best results). Still, if there aren’t enough people interested in participating in your study, it’s okay to have fewer than 5 or 6 people in each session as long as they represent different types of users.

Quantitative usability testing

Following are the quantitative usability testing methods:

(1) A/B testing and multivariate testing

A B Testing for Usability Testing

A/B testing is a way to test the effectiveness of two versions of a product or feature, such as two versions of an email newsletter with different headlines. With an A/B test, you’re looking at the metrics that matter to your business, like how many people click on each email version and which version drives more sales.

Multivariate testing is similar to A/B testing but allows you to test more than two product versions. It’s like taking the math from an A/B test and applying it to multiple variables simultaneously. This is helpful if you want to see how each element affects different aspects of the user experience.

For example, if you’re trying to decide whether or not to add images or video content to your website’s call-to-action buttons, doing a multivariate test allows you to see what kind of impact each option has on user behaviour without having to create separate A/B tests for each one individually—which would be time-consuming and expensive!

(2) Eye-tracking and heatmaps

Heatmaps for Usability Testing

Eye-tracking is the study of where users look on a page. It can be done with or without the use of the software. It’s often used to identify less important elements, which can be removed or redesigned to make them more useful.

Heatmaps show where users click on a page. They’re often used with eye-tracking so you can see how users navigate your site and which parts they’re clicking on most often.

When should you choose quantitative usability testing methods?

When to choose quantitative methods

Quantitative usability testing methods are used when you want to measure a user’s actions, rather than just their feedback.

To be clear, not all quantitative usability testing methods are about measuring a user’s actions. Some are about measuring their responses to stimuli, like questionnaires or surveys. But in general, quantitative methods measure what users do and how they do it—whether that’s their eye movements on a screen or the time it takes them to complete an action.

Quantitative user tests can be helpful in a lot of situations:

  • You need to know how long it takes users to complete certain tasks
    You need to know how many times users complete certain tasks.
    You want to see if there’s a correlation between two events (like clicks during signup)

In short, quantitative methods help you make sense of large amounts of data by showing you averages and ranges instead of just individual values.

Resources required to conduct quantitative usability testing

Resources for quantitative testing

There are a lot of factors at play here – different types of software and hardware, different types of users and their devices, different types of tests – and it’s hard to answer all of them. Hence following are the resources that can help you conduct a smooth quantitative usability testing.

First, you’ll need to set up your testing space. You want a room with plenty of tables and chairs and an area designated for observers—people who will be watching the tests happen and giving feedback on what they see. It’s also helpful if this area has some kind of whiteboard or notepad where participants can write down their thoughts as they’re doing the tasks you ask them to do.

Next, choose your computers. These should be laptops or tablets so you can easily move them around during the test sessions. Make sure they are properly functioning and are connected to a reliable internet connection.

Our recommendation is to always start with a survey tool like Typeform or Google Forms. These are great for getting a broad set of data from your users about their preferences for things like colours and fonts, as well as general product usage habits. They’re also free!

Finally, decide on what type of interface will work best for your users’ needs: touch screen or mouse? For example, if you’re doing remote testing, then using a touch screen may be less disruptive for participants than having someone show them how to use a mouse effectively during each session—but make sure there’s enough space to rest their arms comfortably!


If you’re looking for a quick, and reliable way to determine whether your website or app is user-friendly, usability testing is great. It can help you identify problems with the design of your product, and it’s also a great way to get feedback from users on what they like about your product—and what they don’t.

If you’re not sure which kind of usability testing is right for you, try both! For example, you might find that one method works better than the other in certain situations or that combining methods is even more helpful than either one alone.

At Octet Design Studio, we believe that usability testing is the key to identifying roadblocks and eliminating them to create a delightful user experience. Our goal is to help you build your business by providing you with meaningful insights into how your products are being used and how to improve them. Don’t forget to check our usability testing services.

Related articles:

6 Easy Steps to Conduct Usability Testing in UX Design

7 Reasons Why Usability is Key to Enterprise UX

Creative Director and Founder of Octet Design Studio- Aakash Jethwani
Aakash Jethwani

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