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Choosing Methodology

The goal of user research is to either generate ideas or validate concepts. Some methods are also better suited for quantitative (large scale/close ended) research while most are great for qualitative (small scale/open ended) research.

A simple but meaningful way of thinking about these different types of research inputs is…


Generative Research

Conducted to inspire and stimulate the design/innovation team, generative research enables the team to more effectively define requirements. It helps us understand how the environment that consumers work in and the things they use affect your organization's offerings and opportunities. It helps the team understand not only what people say, but what they do. The goal is to find challenges and opportunities for the new product or service.

Evaluative research

Conducted to determine what aspects of new designs resonate with potential new innovations.

Why Quantitative?

The goal of quantitative research is to give us enough data points to make informed decisions. Quantitative research is usually used to evaluate a new product or service idea, but can also be used to help understand the context of a new innovation.

Number of Participants
The number of participants that you need is based on the number of people in your total user population. Usually you will want to talk to at least 100 people per segment.

Limitation of Quantitative
Close-ended questions can help us gauge if an idea will be successful, but they usually do not help us determine why.

How this Research is Leveraged
Product line management
Business unit management

Why Qualitative?

Understanding the consumers' environment and having deep conversations with them is invaluable for achieving a fuller understanding of their needs, the root causes behind the challenges they face, and opportunities for innovation and growth. Sometimes the answer is not known, or cannot be articulated by the subjects, and we must infer from close observation of their behavior and their environment.
Qualitative research helps designers to understand an issue and to determine the best and most innovative way to solve product challenges. It also identifies well posed questions that can be checked quantitatively.

Number of Participants
Roughly 7-10 per segment

Limitation of Qualitative
Cannot be used to infer proportions of the population.  A mention of an issue once, by one respondent, has equal weight with an issue consistently mentioned by all respondents.

How this Research is Leveraged


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