Qualitative Research Consultants Association (QRCA) - QRCA Views Magazine, Spring 2021

An Opportunity Ten months later, the four of us had the opportunity to take our show on the road, when we represented QRCA at the 2020 ESOMAR Congress on a panel discussion of Do the Worlds of Qualitative Research and UX Research Overlap? (www.qrca.org/ page/industry_partners. www.qrca.org/ blogpost/979022/Video-Library.) Subsequent to that panel discussion, I continued my quest to better under- stand how UX and qualitative research are interconnected and can learn from each other. Different Perspectives on Research “Qualitative is the bigger umbrella, and there are flavors of it. UX research is one flavor, and qualitative market research is another flavor.” —Mary Sorber “The big difference is that if you meet a UX researcher and they are mainly focused on qualitative practices/methods and you say, “Oh, so you are a ‘qualitative researcher’” they literally say, “What is a ‘qualitative researcher’, I’m a ‘UX researcher’.” They just don’t think of themselves as a ‘qualitative researcher’ in the way a market researcher practicing qualitative methods would call themselves a ‘qualitative researcher’.”— Janet Standen “In the UX field, there is a general mistrust of marketing and market research. They feel like the marketing team’s only objective is to sell the most product at the expense of the quality of the product.” —Lauren Isaacson In many cases, UX and qualitative researchers are coming from two different planets. Many UX researchers are coming from a design thinking/graphic design background, while those who define them- selves as qualitative researchers are coming from a research background—so the baseline experiences and perspectives that they bring to approaching UX and qualitative research are different. Conclu- sion: UXers may not realize that tech- niques and approaches they use have their evolution in qualitative research. The goal of qualitative research and UX research is generally different. While qualitative researchers are comfortable defining themselves as market research- ers, the “market” research nomenclature is anathema for UX researchers. UX researchers see themselves as consumer advocates and their research exploration focuses on making the user experience better, rather than on how to sell the product/service. Conclusion: If a UX researcher believes that the sole focus of qualitative research is on market research, it is understandable why a UX researcher may feel qualitative research has nothing in common with what they do. Lack of Common Terminology Is a Barrier and Causes Confusion “I might do an in-context interview as a qualitative researcher, whereas it would be called contextual inquiry if I’m coming more from the product end. Qualitative researchers use focus group; UX researchers use discus- sion group.” —Janet Standen “There’s a big misconception that UX research is the same as usability testing. . . . UX research is much, much broader than usability testing. That’s probably one of the biggest misconceptions now that traditional qualitative researchers have. . . . The other thing that will mark you as a market researcher is if you refer to somebody as ‘client side’; in the UX world people refer to being ‘in-house’.” —Mary Sorber Translators are also needed when UXers talk to each other. Michele Ronsen, a design and user researcher whose Curiosity Tank is a leader in training UX professionals, discovered that A QUICK ASIDE: Among the benefits QRCA offers its members is that QRCA has affiliations with other marketing and research organizations. That helps QRCA expand its reach, as well as giving members an opportunity to be spotlighted at other organizations’ events. One of QRCA’s newest associations is with ESOMAR, which is a European -based global organization whose focus is on data, research, and the insights community. ESOMAR has a large client-side corporate membership and is very active in working with the European Union on legislation that impacts the research community. QUALITATIVE RESEARCH CONSULTANTS ASSOCIATION 53