Qualitative + Quantitative

How Qualitative Methods Support Better Data Science

Robyn Rap
Robyn Rap
Apr 23, 2018 · 6 min read
  • missing a vital opportunity to empathize with those using our products, or
  • misinterpreting data.

What are qualitative methods and how are they different from quantitative methods?

Few data scientists are formally trained in qualitative methods. They’re more deeply familiar with quantitative methods like A/B testing, surveys, and regressions. Quantitative methods are great for answering questions like “How much does the average small business spend on a job posting?”, “What are the skills that make someone a data scientist?”, or even “How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie roll pop?” (The answer is 3. Three licks.)

Cartoon created by Indeed UX Research Manager Dave Yeats using cmx.io

Why should you use qualitative methods? A case study in Lead Generation

Our Lead Generation team recently benefited greatly from the use of qualitative methods. When an employer posts a job, it represents a revenue opportunity for Indeed. We route that employer to an account executive, who then reaches out and helps the employer set an advertising budget to sponsor their job. This increases the job’s visibility and therefore the velocity at which they make a successful hire. Employers who have not yet spent with us on Indeed are referred to as “leads”.

  • Interviews. We sat down with several sales managers and representatives across the company and asked them questions about leads they had previously decided to call or drop, like “How do you pick which leads to call first?” or “Why did you decide to drop this lead?”.
  • Content Analysis. We combed through thousands of open-ended responses to a company-wide survey of account executives to better understand their pain points with regards to leads.

Where to start learning the basics for qualitative methods

In the case study above, our end users were our co-workers here at Indeed. It’s worth noting that it’s not always as simple to conduct qualitative studies with external users. Here at Indeed, we have a fantastic UX Qualitative Research team to turn to for these kinds of studies. We encourage you to reach out to such teams at your own companies, and if they don’t exist yet, create them. Work with them. Shadow them. Buy them a beer. They are wonderful!

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Robyn Rap

Written by

Robyn Rap

Data enthusiast and social scientist. Product Science Manager at Indeed.com. I will bake you a pie while debating pie charts.

Indeed Engineering

Stories from Indeed Engineering