Why Qualitative App Analytics are a UX Designer’s Dream

The dynamic thing about being a UX designer is that there are no rules per se, and there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers to a problem. With mobile apps, the user experience needs to be (first and foremost) logical, so designers need to approach a problem from various angles until they find what works best in terms of user flow. To do that, designers usually employ a wide variety of tools and methods, including A/B split testing, usability testing, live chats, in-person interviews, etc. All of the above methods are used by app pros to understand how users react not just to the app, but to the problems they are facing, and the proposed solutions.

Even though these methods and tools are useful, they all share a couple of common problems:

  • They are time-consuming
  • They are expensive
  • They lack answers to a single crucial question

Split testing is great, but also very time-consuming. It can often weigh heavy on a company’s resources. Live chats, in-person interviews, they all carry the same burden. Ask any UX designer, they will all confirm that resources are always (and everywhere) limited. On top that, all but one method – in-person interviews – fail to answer a single question – Why?

Without directly asking the users Why, it is virtually impossible to understand what makes certain UX elements satisfactory, while others are deemed poor and failing. Knowing these answers make behavioral analysis a breeze. Why do you like this menu? Why do you avoid this screen? Why did you choose to swipe here, instead of tapping? Why did you skip onboarding? Why did you make it half way through account registration, only to quit and uninstall the app?

UX designers can test various app elements, build prototypes and go for A/B versions to see which work best, but at the end of the day, they are just tapping rocks in a creek to see which one can support their weight. Even with all the different tools at their disposal, they still will not be able to understand WHY this rock is able to support their weight, while the one next to it is not.

 That is where qualitative analytics enter the picture. These powerful tools are solving UX designers’ problems at their core with ease and filigree precision. They are giving app pros the answers to the Whys without burning a hole in their wallets, or having them skip anniversary dinner again to work overtime. Qualitative analytics tools allow UX developers to go in-depth, under the surface of the creek, to examine these rocks and see why and how some are able to support a person’s weight, while others sink straight to the bottom.

Watching real-life sessions

One of the main tools of qualitative analytics is user session recordings. User session recordings provides app pros with real-time recordings of users going about the app, offering a completely uninhibited, 100 percent honest view of individual user behavior. This tool allows app pros to see if, and how, their audience uses a particular popular feature. It helps UX designers spot which app screens are garnering attention, and which are simply collecting virtual dust. With user session recordings, app pros can inspect which app elements (menus, CTAs, etc.) work, and which need work. And finally, it allows the analyzing of new features and conversion funnels to make sure any changes made are actually creating the desired effect with the users.

recording sessions

For example, imagine you have a mobile game, with users frequently reporting the game crashing at level three. However, no matter how you reach, or play through level three, it never crashes on you. So how do you understand what happened? With user session recordings, you can see exactly the steps that were used by various players to get the game to crash on them. It makes debugging cheaper, faster and more efficient. And the best part is – users get a better product, faster.

Session recordings can be used with all app categories and genres, not just gaming. Let's take fitness, or social media apps, for example. These kinds of mobile products require a fair amount of setup and preparation by the user before they can be fully utilized. Which means thorough onboarding. Which, consequently, means users need to be focused and fully committed for a somewhat longer period of time.

With user session recordings, app pros can approach onboarding from a qualitative perspective, getting an unbiased, unaltered view of the users’ navigation. This can provide valuable information into the quality of onboarding.  

Or, in another example, search-intensive apps like restaurant apps, accommodation or travel apps. Mobile products that require a lot of user input usually have plenty of room for improvement. Are the search defaults relevant? Are the app’s recommendations relevant? Is the autocorrect, autocomplete, or autofill feature working properly? Did users ultimately find what they were looking for, and if so, how fast?

Answering these questions is fundamental to the success of a search-heavy app, and they can be answered fairly easy with qualitative analytics tools like user session recordings.

Filling the silence

Qualitative analytics is as close as we have gotten to a crystal ball for mobile apps so far – UX designers can move away from guesswork when it comes to designing, or testing, virtually anything regarding an app. App pros will no longer need to play psychologists, or far seers, to be able to understand their users. With qualitative analytics, they will be able to understand why certain patterns of behavior occur – why users decide to abruptly abandon particular app pages, or why they skip onboarding before it completes.

Qualitative analytics also make insights more actionable than ever before – the tools can point exactly to the pain points, showing app pros what needs to be done to improve the UX and ultimately user flow.

Keep in mind that qualitative analytics tools were not made to replace other types and methods of testing. User session recordings will not make in-person interviews obsolete, but they can significantly ease the strain in-person interviews and similar methods place on a company’s both time, and money. Qualitative analytics can also be used to validate testing results.

This visual, real-life and real-time information, provided by qualitative analytics tools, should be paired with quantitative information obtained through other channels. That way, UX designers can get an authentic, complete image of the app in the eyes of the user.

Being able to spot, and react to user actions and wishes – proactively – will not only improve the user flow and UX, but also improve the image of the entire company in the eyes of the users. If that is not an amazing way to increase user retention, what is? With qualitative analytics tools, like the ones of Appsee, app pros will be able to move through the minds of their audience with ease, without breaking bank.

Final thoughts

UX designers are faced with tough tasks. They need to keep tabs on user expectations in times when these beliefs change practically every day. They need to get creative with discovering these expectations, and at the same time try not to break their company’s bank. They need to offer logical, natural solutions that will keep user flow in line with user expectations. And they need to rinse and repeat, almost constantly. With an incomplete set of tools, these tasks become that much more difficult. As qualitative analytics offer a one-stop-shop for all of these pain points, it’s no wonder UX designers see them as a dream come true.

About the Author

Hannah L

Hannah is the Head of Content at Appsee app analytics. A UX and mobile app enthusiast, she has a great affinity for discovering and sharing unique insights and resources with the mobile tech community. Hannah also loves photojournalism, classic rock, and pretending that she's the only one with a "foodie" Instagram account. You can follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahLevenson.