Analyzing Qualitative Data
by Terrance Kirkwood

If you’ve conducted some lean customer research like the 5 second test or 1 Click test, both of which are included the Creativity Different Validation Toolkit, then most likely you’ve collected some qualitative data – data that is observed, descriptive and subjective in nature and as a result, difficult to measure (See the qual vs quant post for a more detailed description of the two type of research data). And if your research was successful, then you probably find yourself with a substantial amount of qualitative data that needs to be analyzed, prioritized and reported back to the team so they can act on it. Some of the best qualities (no pun intended) of data captured from qualitative research include the depth of the detailed information and the precision of the individual experience.

Unfortunately, one of the most challenging aspects of qualitative data is the analysis. Unlike Quantitative data, that can be pumped into a spreadsheet or stat analysis tool, Qualitative data requires more manual analysis. The qualitative data from your Lean UX Research might come in the form of customer comments and opinions about their experience with your product. Because different participant observe and comment on different aspects of your product and in different ways, you will first need to somehow organize that disparate data so you can identify the trends and patterns among it all. Those trends and patters you uncover form the basis for categorizing and prioritizing your customer feedback.

The Feedback Categorization method provides one way of analyzing qualitative data collected from your customers. By working with your team as a group and systematically categorizing all the feedback from your research participants, you and your team can isolate and identify the most import feedback from your research and determine where to focus the attention of your design efforts. The primary output of the Feedback Categorization method is an Affinity Diagram.

The Affinity Diagram your will allow you and your team to:

  • Visualize groups of problems, issues, questions and desired functionality.
  • Develop complete solutions, rather than solutions that are independent disjointed and possible incomplete.
  • Identify issues across higher level groups.
  • Collaborate as a team to understand problems and arrive at solutions.

Note: It’s best to work with the team to get the full benefit of the feedback categorization exercise. Having the entire team involved helps to build consensus.

If you want to learn more about how to Improve your Product with UX Research, you can get a copy of my Guide to Understand User Experience Research when you subscribe to my newsletter.