Thematic Analysis of Qualitative User Research Data


When you have a lot of data from research,
like interviews, focus groups or field studies how do you begin to analyze them? When we have a lot of qualitative data
essentially what we want to do is try to uncover themes in the data We do this by exploring similarities and relationships
between different chunks of the data. This process is called thematic analysis. Now there are many ways you can do a
thematic analysis. I’m really into more visual means of analyzing,
because I think it helps teams to see those similarities and relationships
in the data more clearly So I’m going to show you a very cheap and easy method
of performing a thematic analysis in a very visual way and all you need are these materials
which all UX teams have. So we’re gonna start off by printing your
transcripts and field notes and going through and highlighting important sections
that are relevant to your research questions. I find this is a great activity to do with your team. You can run a team analysis session where you give
each team member a transcript to read and highlight. They can also make notes in the margin
of anything that comes to mind. Once complete they then pass that transcript
on to the next team member on the left and receive another transcript from
the team member on their right. By the end of say two hours, everyone in your team
is engaged with all the raw data and you’ve just helped them to have a greater
understanding and empathy for their users. Next we want to cut out all the sections
that have been highlighted and we want to fix them onto stickies and
get them up on a whiteboard or a wall When you’re cutting out sections of the transcript,
it helps to cut out fairly large sections as opposed to really small sections like these because you want to be able to look at the text
and understand enough about the context. Also make a note of the
participant number on each sticky so that you can refer back to the full
transcript if you need to. We now have all of these stickies on the whiteboard. What we want to do now is organize
these in terms of what they’re about. We’re adding here what’s called descriptive labels. So we’re going to go through, group them
and name the categories. Once we have our categories we want to start
thinking about how these all relate to each other And this is the part that most people find
the most difficult and also takes some time. So here I’m creating a new grouping
because I can see multiple participants talking about approaching cooking
in a very flexible way: wanting to throw ingredients together
to make a successful dish, and also have ingredients that can
be used in many different recipes so I’m giving this grouping a new name
to describe this finding. As we proceed in this way some of these
groups are going to collapse or expand and we’re going to give them new
category names and describe those findings. So as you can see this method is very visual and
it can be done collaboratively with your team. You can learn more about this method of thematic
analysis and other methods of analysis in our course on User Interviews at our UX conference.

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