Empathy. We’ve heard that word time and time again, but at the end of the day, it’s easy to forget about it. Even though you spend hours trying to get into your user’s head, when dealing with piles of usability dilemmas, performance problems, and other annoyances, empathy gets pushed to the bottom of our list. The reason is that empathy is a tricky term to define, and it’s hard to push it into a mold of an executable method for UX best practices. That’s where qualitative analytics comes in.
Why is empathy so important? It’s the key to creating a winning app through every step of the creative process, from ideation to release. Apps are meant to make people happier and/or improve their lives, so the concept behind an app is rooted in empathy. From there onwards, user experience design, UI, and retention are all improved when the team maintains empathy towards the users, walking a mile in their shoes.
You can’t feel empathy towards numbers.
Qualitative analytics adds a human face to the numbers and graphs of mobile app analytics. When looking at a graph showing an uptick or a downturn in user retention, how much can you really tell about your users? More importantly, can you really imagine their experience of using your app? Many mobile professionals have sat in front of computer screens, staring at graphs and trying to guess what made their users behave as they did. Traditional quantitative analytics can show you the numbers behind your users, such as the quit rate on a certain screen, but analytics need something more to help you understand why you’re seeing those numbers.
Why qualitative, why now?
App users are becoming more complicated. As smartphones become more and more popular across different ages, backgrounds, and locations, mobile analytics have to take more variables into account. The task of drawing conclusions from statistics is hard enough, and becomes even more difficult as more parameters — and more people — are added to the equation.
Qualitative analytics offers a solution that takes all the power of quantitative analytics and adds a human element: actually following users as they embark on their journey through an app. Empathy at its finest. Instead of relying on reviewers and beta testers, every member of the mobile app team can use qualitative analytics to see their app “in the wild”, and make sure that it’s running smoothly.
How does it work?
Qualitative analytics includes two main features that add a human, personal layer to mobile analytics. One is user session recordings, which show videos and step-by-step breakdowns of every user action, every gesture, and every tap a user makes. This makes it possible to walk alongside your users step by step as they explore your app. You see every interaction and response, and whenever your users get lost in the app, search for something that can’t be found, or expect the app to behave a certain way, you’ll be right there to observe and then try to understand why they did that.
The second is touch heatmaps, which aggregate all user gestures into graphics that remove all guesswork from the decision-making process, pointing to usability issues such as unresponsive gestures, navigation flaws, and unclear microcopy. Touch heatmaps give a more bird’s-eye point of view of your app’s usability and UI, and removes the need to draw conclusions from numbers alone.
Without qualitative analytics, you would be forced to look at graph upon graph of aggregated data, and guess your way into your user’s mind. Qualitative does away with the guesswork and makes it easy to put yourself in the user’s shoes, making empathy accessible and frustration-free. These highly visual, highly personal tools bridge the gap between the people behind the app and the people using it, enabling developers and designers to see their work in action and improve it quickly, efficiently, and without second-guessing their decisions.
Empathy should be a two-way street.
The good news that qualitative analytics bodes for companies is that empathy can go both ways. Qualitative analytics doesn’t just help increase empathy for the user, but also extends it to the entire team. A look at the various business and project management trends of the past few decades will show that we are constantly on the lookout for new ways to increase our productivity, efficiency, and teamwork, as well as the satisfaction we get from our work. Qualitative is more than just another productivity hack: it opens us up to a whole philosophy based on empathy, of focusing on our needs as well as the users’, and of understanding the deeper questions of why and how.
When used right, a qualitative analytics platform can make life easier for every single person working on the app, from the marketing intern and the junior developer just hired last week to the senior product manager and the founder and CEO. The abilities of qualitative analytics can be used not only by UX designers, but also by developers, marketers, and product managers. Devs can follow the steps a user took that led up to a crash. Marketers can follow up on in-app ads and how users interact with them. Product managers can get an all-encompassing look at their app’s usability, popularity, and growth. By adopting a qualitative analytics tool, all team members can gain insight into their day-to-day work, reducing guesswork and uncertainty, making better decisions faster, and reaping the fruits of the labor as they visually see their app improving.
A few more words
A lot has been said about empathy and UX, and now it is time for empathy to make its big breakthrough into the rest of the tech world. When we think and talk about our end users, our business partners, and our team, empathy can be the difference between a good app store review and a bad one, an energized team and a demoralized one, or a win-win situation and, well, the other thing. By helping you to understand your users with empathy, qualitative analytics will treat your team with empathy too, by reducing frustration, cutting down on hours spent on guesswork, and improving teamwork and communication.
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