How to leverage both qualitative and quantitative feedback to build better products

When you're just getting your idea off the ground, you're going to look for ways to validate what's working and what's not working. You do this so that you can make constant incremental improvements to your product. However, how do you know when something is a good or bad idea or feature? And how do you look at input that you receive so that you can make these improvements? The answer lies in capturing and analyzing feedback in both qualitative and quantitative formats.

Qualitative data is data that is captured that is descriptive - someone saying "I love how the product flows" is one example of qualitative feedback. Another is "hey, this font is WAY too small - you should make it bigger." Qualitative input comes from real people telling you what they like and don't like about your product. It generally comes in unstructured formats, though you can formalize qualitative inputs a few different ways. Qualitative data is typically considered "soft" data as opposed to "hard" data.

Quantitative data, on the other hand, is data that is measured and precise. It typically comes in structured formats. An example of quantitative data would be a report from Google Analytics telling you how many users visited your website in the past week. Quantitative data captures and reports on "hard" data, so it's easy to see trends as they happen.

When building products you'll want to incorporate both types of input. Here are a few ways to do this:

Qualitative

  1. Ask a dozen people (ideally, folks you don't know) to walk through your product and give you feedback. Write it down.
  2. Hold a focus group (on the cheap...don't get fancy yet) and have people in a session review all at once, and create a dialog about the product. 
  3. Walk up to a stranger (coffee shops are great for this) and ask them to walk through your product. Don't prompt them - just be gracious and ask them for feedback on an idea you're working on.

Quantitative

  1. Set up google analytics to see your metrics
  2. Use bitly.com to track where sources are coming from
  3. Set up an A/B testing tool like Optimizely to run split tests on different features and messages

There are all sorts of ways to gather input. Just be open to trying a few different ways out, be brave in asking people to give you input, and make sure you track all input so you can review and act upon it. 

Get in touch if you'd like to learn more about how to capture and measure quantitative and qualitative data for your product!