Combining quantitative and qualitative data

Stephanie Marsh
11 min readFeb 24, 2020

This blog is based I did a talk about combining quantitative and qualitative data at UX Istanbul 2020. It was a 40 minute talk, which makes for a fairly long read.

Why am I talking about this?

Gathering data for me is about taking opinion out of the equation as much as possible when making decisions about the work that needs to be done. I’ve seen people ignore the data, because they know better than the evidence, to disastrous consequences. If you want to meet your users needs, then you need data — both quantitative and qualitative depending on the situation to make good decisions, one type of data isn’t better than the other wholesale — its using the right data at the right time. You need both to build the right thing and to build the thing right. GDS designers are very good at making posters like these, that speak powerful truths in simple ways. They are freely available online, if you feel your organisation needs some home truths.

Effective and efficient use of data

What do you have? What do you need?

It can be expensive to get new tools, get more data whether its quantitative or qualitative. But this is often what organisations jump straight to.

It’s important to pause and assess, what do you need? What do you need to understand? And what do you already have? And does it meet the need? Perhaps not, maybe you really do need something new, but perhaps you have a lot of valuable data that’s sitting there unused. I have worked at organisations that have gathered lots of data at significant cost but has used it only to report up to senior management and nothing else. Sometimes a single source of data may not be that helpful, but when you combine and triangulate that data, it can be much more powerful. But it all starts with the data having a purpose.

Creating a holistic, evidence based narrative

The What. The Why.

Quantitative data is really good at telling you what is happening, what has happened — how your products and services are being used, what people’s attitudes and opinions are about the things they are using. What’s going well and what…

Stephanie Marsh

Currently UX Research Operations Lead at Springer Nature. Wrote a book about User Research for Kogan Page.