The word ‘data’ (said in a robotic voice) was once the preserve of geeks, number-crunchers and tech-bods. Now ‘data’ (said with optimistic excitement) is said to be the new oil for business and the soil in which ideas can grow. However, despite the clamour around the power of data, it too often remains impenetrable and lacking in humanity. Online qualitative research can help humanise data by adding context through verbatims and video. Numbers can be brought to life through words.
Take the example of web analytics and the vast swathes of data that a website collects on its visitors’ behaviour. Programmes like Google analytics and Omniture can tell you a great deal about what people do (and you can hypothesise how this apparently relates to design). That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t say much about why they did it, how it felt or who they are. Intercept surveys like 4Q can go some way to addressing this, but recruiting site visitors into an online qualitative discussion can go even further. Asking visitors what they think, feel and why they do what they do, allow you to humanise data and bring behavioural insights to life through emotional and attitudinal context.
This idea also applies to quantitative survey research. A well-structured and correctly recruited survey can provide a quantified and validated set of data. However, there is still a great deal of interpretation, hypothesising and conjecture necessary to turn this into useful insights. Making intelligent guesses about the data can be much smarter when survey participants are asked to elaborate on their answers in online qualitative discussions. As long as participants opt-in to be being re-contacted, verbatims and participant videos can really help bring quantitative data to life.
Essentially, wherever there is data and interpretation, insights can be humanised, brought to life and therefore made more valuable (and validated) through conversation.