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Summary: Diversifying user research methods ensures more reliable, valid results by considering multiple ways of collecting and interpreting data.
A big hurdle to doing user research is convincing stakeholders that it’s necessary. Aside from concerns that it will cost too much (it doesn’t have to!) or take too long (it can be quick!), people who haven’t experienced the benefits of doing research often raise concerns about how much it will help and whether the results can be trusted.
This last concern is especially common with small studies, where people rightfully point out that the conclusions can’t be statistically ‘proven.’ This argument can be hard to overcome because the truth is: they’re right. A small sample size is a limitation of many qualitative usability studies. Conversely, a lack of context and meaning is a big limitation of quantitative methods like analyzing analytics data.
All research methods are limited in some way. But the solution to overcoming these limitations is not to throw up our hands and quit doing research. Instead, the best approach is to use multiple research methods, so the limitations of one method are mitigated by data from another source. This approach of applying multiple research techniques is called triangulation . According to the Encyclopedia of Research Design: