Innovation and Usability Testing: A Qualitative Perspective

By April 8, 2014 No Comments

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If you haven’t already heard, Plastic Mobile’s Salome Sallehy and Parisa Durrani presented at Qual360 last week. The global conference brings leaders in the industry together to discuss qualitative research methods and best practices.

The seeming challenge with qualitative research is that it’s gaining a reputation for being, to put it frankly, “outdated”. Since Plastic Mobile happens to love a challenge, we wanted to present a perspective on rethinking qualitative research by providing applicable instances of its modern success and implementation.

At Qual360, the focus was to bring a fresh perspective to our usability testing methodologies. While contributing to the conference, we also noted some key themes in the contemporary qualitative research space.


These days the bare minimum is no longer enough, and all presenters were enthusiastic about an environment that allows creativity and research methods to mingle with one another. By creating a conversation through creative engagement, the research will be received on a larger scale with a larger audience. Focus groups are no longer the standard, and the methods for measuring human behaviours need to be brought to life through richer user experiences. Most agreed that combining experiential and traditional qualitative elements will bring forth more powerful insights.

The Value of Emotions

Research indicates that 55% of messages pertaining to emotions are in facial expression, which means there is something to be said for usability testing and human behaviour. Qualitative researchers are beginning to recognize the value of facial coding to collect relevant data. Facial coding is essentially the art of reading emotions on one’s face. According to Sensory Logic, a market research firm focusing primarily on facial coding, It is decoding these emotions can help generate insights into marketing effectiveness.

Revival of Qual in Usability Testing

Qualitative research is a longstanding methodology that works, but this doesn’t mean it won’t need to evolve as the times change. We wanted more qualitative findings for usability testing, but knew the approach needed a fresh new method. Our curiosity for digging deep into user experiences as they utilized mobile apps lead to a study that blended neuroscience with biometrics. With the use of EEG headsets, we measured attention and engagement observed through eye tracking goggles. By coupling this with data collection, the results were insightful and unique.

With more innovation in usability testing while bearing the above three things in mind, there is no doubt that qualitative research will see its modern day glory come to fruition.

Thank you to Qual360 for hosting us at the event this year!