July 25th, 2007
Leisa Reichelt, over at Disambiguity, is writing a 3-part series on accepting the unscientific qualities of qualitative research, and using qualitative research as a flexible way to gather rich and insightful information about your intended audience.
In each part (part 3 is in the works,) Leisa states a way you might make qualitative research “look more scientific,” and then discusses some reasons why trying to make qualitative research more quantitative is a waste of time, money, and energy.
1) Use a relatively large sample size
The richness of the information and insight you receive even from this small sample size makes the return on investment enormous – and the small sample size makes it an activity that almost any project can incorporate into their timeline and budget. At the end of the day – those things are far more important than scientific validity.
2) Ensure that your test environment doesn’t change
If you want to quickly weed out problems with your site/application/prototype – then I recommend that you fix the problem and move on to spend your valuable research time learning about things you don’t already know about. It will certainly keep you awake as you’re researching, you’ll get rapid return on investment and excellent bang for buck as far as research techniques go.
3) Ensure that your test approach doesn’t change (don’t change the script, and stick to it)
Perhaps you can use her arguments when someone asks you about the validity of your qualitative research.
You can read part 1 here: Embracing the Un-Science of Qualitative Research Part One – Small Sample Sizes are Super
You can read part 2 here: Embracing the Un-Science of Qualitative Research Part Two – Ever-Evolving Prototypes are Ace
Part 3 is on the way.