How probability demystifies qualitative research

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I vividly remember interviewing a participant for the first time. Riddled with leading questions, it was a subpar experience for all parties involved. By the fourth participant, something hard to explain happened, I could predict what the next person would do.

‘This is a common phenomena’ said my manager, who confidently booked 5 participants for the test. Incredible, how on earth did they know this was all the people we would need to get results?

When asked about the origin of these oracle-like abilities, they pointed me to the much cited Nielsen Norman Group (NNG) article ‘Why you only need to test with 5 users’ which is based off the 1993 published paper ‘A Mathematical Model of the Finding of Usability Problems’. …


The trouble with UX personas and what we can do about it.

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You have probably seen personas floating around your workspace. Personas are fictional characters derived from demographics. Next to a name, there will be a stock photo or sketch with a small description and a few assumptive metrics based on demographics or characteristics. Jane the mother, Jim the carpenter or Bob the builder.

Personas are a staple in design, software and services, and for good reason. They help create empathy for customers throughout the company. They are easily digestible snapshots of who people are designing for and how to meet their needs. This simplicity and digestibility is what has drawn criticism. …


Image for post
Image for post

Personas are a staple in design, software and services, and for good reason. They help create empathy for customers throughout the company. They are easily digestible snapshots of who people are designing for and how to meet their needs. This simplicity and digestibility is what has drawn criticism.

The truth is, while qualitative research is great for understanding context, it’s poor for segmenting a population or finding large data trends. So why not mix both? Use the best bits of qualitative research combined with the best bits of quantitative research to get the full picture.

The steps are: talk to people to identify assumptions and questions, run a survey with a larger sample, segment the sample, then follow up with people from each segment to learn the context. …


The trouble with UX personas and what we can do about it.

Image for post
Image for post

You have probably seen personas floating around your workspace. Personas are fictional characters derived from demographics. Next to a name, there will be a stock photo or sketch with a small description and a few assumptive metrics based on demographics or characteristics. Jane the mother, Jim the carpenter or Bob the builder.

Personas are a staple in design, software and services, and for good reason. They help create empathy for customers throughout the company. They are easily digestible snapshots of who people are designing for and how to meet their needs. This simplicity and digestibility is what has drawn criticism. …


How probability demystifies sample size, personas, and communication

Image for post
Image for post

I vividly remember interviewing a participant for the first time. Riddled with leading questions, it was a subpar experience for all parties involved. By the fourth participant, something hard to explain happened, I could predict what the next person would do.

‘This is a common phenomena’ said my manager, who confidently booked 5 participants for the test. Incredible, how on earth did they know this was all the people we would need to get results?

When asked about the origin of these oracle-like abilities, they pointed me to the much cited Nielsen Norman Group (NNG) article ‘Why you only need to test with 5 users’ which is based off the 1993 published paper ‘A Mathematical Model of the Finding of Usability Problems’. …

About

Sam Straun

Merging data, statistics, ethnography and design to create human-centred experiences.

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