“Technology and business organizations often default to a positivist worldview and subsequently believe that quantitative results that provide numeric measures have the most value,” writes Bill Sellman, Lead User Researcher on Firefox. “The hype surrounding big data methods (and the billions spent on marketing by vendors making certain you know about their enterprise big data tools) goes hand-in-hand with the perceived correctness of this set of assumptions. Given this ecosystem of belief, itâ€™s not surprising that user research employing quantitative methods is perceived by many in our industry as the only user research an organization would need to conduct.”
Sellman then goes on to explain why qualitative research methods are essential for technology user research because of one well-documented and consistently observed facet of human social life: the concept of homophily.
“Quantitative user research needs qualitative user research methods in order to know what we should be measuring and to provide examples, theories, and explanations. Likewise, qualitative research needs quantitative research to measure and validate our work as well as to uncover larger patterns we cannot see.”