This week I gained clarity on the difference between qualitative and quantitative user analysis. I discovered how facial expressions can be used more effectively in usability analysis and applying a qualitative method like success rate can help drive design decisions. Choosing the right usability tests can build indicators which can focus your design efforts.
Qualitative versus quantitative
Qualitative research aims to gather an in-depth understanding of human behavior and the reasons that govern such behavior. Quantitative research is the systematic empirical investigation of observable phenomena via statistical, mathematical or numerical data or computational techniques. The goal of a usability test will determine what type of analysis to choose. In some cases, you may choose both qualitative and quantitative.
Culture impacts facial expressions
Facial expressions can be used as either qualitative or quantitative analysis during usability testing. They should be used as indicator where to focus your design efforts. In my experience, they are like a litmus test because they confirm what the user is saying actually matches their emotion. Many factors can challenge the analysis of facial expressions during usability tests like the pan-cultural effect. This effect concluded that Westerners look at whole faces including the eyes and the mouth to ascertain emotion while Easterners keep their focus mainly on the eye region. So while Westerners may use their whole faces to show that they’re elated, Easterners may express that feeling mainly around their eyes. Which means that facial expressions are not a universal language.
Success Rate is a quantitative method that works
Numbers are powerful because they call for attention. A quantitative method that measures the percentage of tasks that a user correctly completes is called a success rate. It helps give insights to drive design decisions. Success rates are easy to understand, collect and represent usability's bottom line. They are a very telling statistic. If users can't accomplish their target task, all else is irrelevant. User success is the bottom line of usability and this method can drive this point naturally.