The people behind the data

Comunidades de Insights | Insight communities
Redacción 4m of reading

User Experience focuses on analyzing the entire process of a person’s interaction with a digital platform, typically a website or app. To determine whether that experience is good or bad, there are many elements at play, such as interface design, ease of finding what you’re looking for, the system’s ability (sometimes surprising) to anticipate and provide what you need, the relevance or irrelevance of displayed data, and more.

Brands have long been aware of the importance of the online channel, so year after year, they increase their efforts to understand what is happening and how to optimize their goals. But how has this journey been?

First stop, observation. This task has fallen, and still does, on UX professionals. Initially in design areas, but increasingly connected to business areas. Through mainly qualitative tests, they analyze user behavior through observation (direct or recorded) to understand the variables that influence their decisions. The problem is that these tests involve few people, so the results are not always extrapolatable.

Next stop: big data, complementary to the previous one. It consists of internal and external systems that collect data about users, thousands of data points, to help the brand make better decisions. Every operation can be recorded, tracked, and analyzed. Or almost everything. With this, brands can know what works and what doesn’t. And if you add machine learning systems to this, so smart they learn on their own, we begin to predict.

But… what are we missing? If brands can analyze everything in real time and can also make future projections, why don’t strategies always succeed?

Understanding People

It is clear that data analytics and business intelligence systems help anticipate and have a better strategy, but many times brands still don’t understand why things happen. And here comes the most fundamental part of marketing: behind users are people. Behind that data are people with sometimes unpredictable behaviors or conditioned by variables that are not under the brand’s control, but still affect its business and, therefore, it must make an effort to understand them. Only by understanding their emotions and intentions will they understand user behavior. Of people. Of their customers.

And this brings us to the last stop (for now) on this journey: Thick Data, understanding people. Let’s give two examples:

  • Nokia, based on its big data systems, bet on smartphones for high-level users. That’s what their data told them. But Tricia Wang, an anthropologist and one of the pioneers of thick data, took a different approach. She analyzed 100 people in-depth and perceived the potential of the mass audience. However, her behavioral study did not have enough statistical representativeness for Nokia, so they stuck to their initial strategy, disregarding the conclusions of the attitudinal study. And we all know the end of this story.
  • Another example: Netflix, which from the beginning has focused on deeply understanding the user, and this could be considered one of the pillars of its success. In addition to their powerful algorithms and big data systems, they brought in Grant McCracken, also an anthropologist, who provided great knowledge about changes in audiovisual content consumption. And thanks to his research, they identified the success of their series marathons, for example.

So, do brands need to hire anthropologists? Not necessarily, or at least not necessarily. What they need to do is dedicate efforts to understand people, including this type of analysis in their strategies.

At We are testers, we are convinced that this is the way forward, so our last two technological solutions are designed to achieve this goal: deeply understanding users, understanding the whys and motivations.

We invite you to explore our online market research tools, both for conducting Online Communities with our WAT Lab tool and for carrying out User Experience Studies with our WAT UX tool. Two different approaches but with the same goal: understanding what truly drives the user behind the data and, ultimately, the person behind the user.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Javier Turrado is CEO of We are testers and an expert in user experience analysis techniques.[/author_info] [/author]

Update date 22 December, 2023

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