Sometimes it’s ok not to ask ‘why’

Weeknotes #23: Oct 26–30, 2020

If you’ve read some of my other posts, you know I’m a fan of qualitative interviews and discovery, where the interviewee can attempt to uncover ‘why’ someone does something. This is in contrast to looking at behavioural analytics and focusing on the ‘what’, and ‘how often’.

What people say, what people do, and what they say they do are entirely different things — Margaret Mead

Can people really explain ‘why’ anyway?

Another challenge to this utopian belief that we can just ask people why they performed a certain action, or what they were looking for, is that people don’t actually know all the reasons we do things and how we make decisions. For more on this idea, I recommend Danny Kahneman’s book Thinking: Fast and Slow. People are good at telling you what happened, but they’re generally pretty terrible at explaining why.

Quantitative research can help with validation, whereas the focus of qualitative research is discovery

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Andrea F Hill

Sr UX Specialist with Canada Revenue Agency, former web dev and product person. 🔎 Lifelong learner. Unapologetic introvert. Plant-powered marathoner. Cat mom.