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Qualitative Research & Insights

Create user-centric digital product and service innovations, quickly and continuously

As markets become inundated with new software and services, differentiation means innovation – which requires addressing the deep, unmet needs of every user or customer segment, and confidently developing realistic, tangible solutions that drive measurable results. 

Our qualitative research services can help you prepare for this future. 

At Highland, we strive to enhance the effectiveness of your business mission, digital products, and services by giving you the insights and evidence you need to make the right decisions. Our diverse portfolio of qualitative research methods get inside the minds of your customers and ideal target audiences, locate unseen market gaps, and identify missed business growth opportunities. In short, we provide you with the targeted strategy you need to create exceptional products and services that people value and want to use.

User Research Questions

Find answers to critical user research questions and challenges

We begin each project with a qualitative approach to remove guesswork, validate your ideas, and learn exactly what your users want. To help you reach your goals, we help your customers reach theirs. Let us help you answer:

  • Where do we stand next to competitors in users’ eyes – and how can we reach higher?

  • We have an idea for a new product:  How do we make sure it’s what users want and need?

  • Why is our current product or service failing?

  • How can we attract new customers?

  • How can we make our products and services fit better into users’ lives?

  • What’s the best way to organize research, data, and insights into an actionable strategy?

  • How can we provide a better seamless digital and in-person experience?

Our Services

Our Research & Insights Team supports every stage of your discovery, strategy, and design process. 

No matter where you are in your digital product development journey, we will uncover critical findings that meet your business goals, surpass user expectations, and build experiences that develop long-lasting customer relationships.

User Research

Get inspired by studying your users. To deliver the best experiences, we first need to learn what your users need: Their emotional, functional, and social needs, preferences, and expectations. We offer a range of research methodologies that pinpoint what people want, what they don’t know they want, and the why behind their wants to present innovative ways you can better serve all.

Customer Experience Research

Observe and understand the steps users take as they complete hands-on tasks using your product or service. This research collects in-depth insights you will use to define or improve digital experiences. We will help you understand customer priorities and problems, fill gaps and fix flaws early in the product development process, and keep your team centered on the desires of your users.

Design Research

Great design happens when user insights meet creative business problem solving. Whether you want to discover opportunities or evaluate existing ideas, we perform a variety of research methods to identify patterns in user behaviors and match product design and services to them. This enables users to accomplish their goals while you successfully achieve yours.

Market Opportunity Exploration

Real breakthroughs happen when opportunities inform product ideas. Whether it’s defining an opportunity you know, exploring an emerging opportunity, or you need creative hunting on an undiscovered opportunity, we use a wide variety of market research techniques to help you identify possibilities you never considered before.

Patient Experience & Health Research

We employ numerous qualitative data collection methods to surface what matters most to every patient, their families or caregivers, and your healthcare staff, turning rich, in-depth insight into transformative patient experience strategies that nurture a culture of patient-centricity.

Types of Research We Do

We research your users to help you understand what they require and what you need. These research methods are proven to be the most powerful in designing for the entire user experience.

Exploratory Research

Need help gathering data to support a new service or application? Let’s explore users with curiosity, pragmatism, and speed. We’ll collect information on specific audiences’ motivations, why they struggle with certain problems, and help clarify how you can begin solving those problems.

Co-creation Research

Sometimes the best way to get deeper insights into product design is by creating together. We hold experience facilitating sessions with consumers, internal stakeholders, and more, enabling all knowledgeable, passionate people to have the kinds of discussions that drill into unexpected areas and spark bold ideas.

Evaluative Research

If you have an existing product or new idea, we will help evaluate the concept and collect the data you need to improve or build your software. This method is the best way to test whether solutions you’ve come up with address target audiences’ needs, wants, and challenges.

Personal Immersion Research

Our team has experience in immersing ourselves in a particular community or organization to observe target audiences’ behaviors or interactions up close. By experiencing natural settings first-hand, we can spot user needs that have not yet been verbalized.

Primary Research

Need new information? We offer a variety of primary research methods that help you learn more about problems that need solving, untapped markets, and current or prospective customers.

Secondary Research

To accentuate insights collected from primary research, we may look into secondary research and data sources that have already been compiled, gathered, organized, and published by others.

Contextual/In-person Research

Through in-person, in-depth, participant observation, we can uncover hidden information on what people do and why they do it. This type of research is critical in shaping design choices, because it focuses on how people use your product and its features.

Remote Research

Our team is accustomed to and experienced in conducting research remotely, from workshops to single- and multi-person interviews, allowing us to brainstorm ideas, explore concepts, and learn about users virtually.

Quantitative Research

Hone in on product preferences and features by pairing qualitative data analysis with quantitative data. To do this, we may apply quantitative methods and numerical data to garner deeper conclusions and themes for product development decisions.

Qualitative, quantitative, or hybrid, immersive or agile, we can do it. We’ll apply the right mix of research methods and strategic guidance to uncover the most important, new insights you need to know and help you decide what to do about it.

Not sure what you need? 

Value you receive

We are a multi-disciplinary, diverse group of researchers that have a mission: Enable you to meet yours.

Innovate with Confidence

No more speculation and uncertainty about the path forward. Our practice is dedicated to finding hidden opportunities with users, the market, and your products. We crystalize actionable insights that give you the direction you need to invest intelligently and successfully—helping you leap-frog your competition.

Expanded & Focused Strategic Vision

Step outside of the box with energy and excitement! We help you define and bring the big picture into view, set a prioritized strategy grounded in reality, and accelerate your time-to-market with a directed, step-by-step prioritized roadmap that delivers an on-target solution.

Increased Customer Retention & Engagement

By clarifying the why behind your users, we help you target the right problems, eliminate fragmented experiences, and confirm that the value you provide delights and resonates with your audience.

Team Enablement

We don’t just deliver work, we build cross-functional collaboration, co-creation, and consensus around user needs. We translate our insights into evergreen assets, tools, and strategies that become hard-wired into your teams’ business strategy.

Why choose Highland?

We provide a full set of qualitative research services and methods, including in-depth interviews, user journey maps, grounded theory, phenomenology, thematic analysis, ethnographies, focus groups, qualitative inquiry, and more.

What makes us different is how we research design and put the right combination of research techniques together to deliver the quality of insights you need. Many of our researchers are emotionally intelligent, industry leaders, and have degrees in psychology or related subjects, giving them the skills and knowledge to get inside your customers’ heads. We also have an uncommon rigor and dedication to our research processes, our work, your company, and your users. We do what we do, the way we do it for one reason: Because we care.

Featured Projects

We are experts in facilitating user-centered innovation. Our clients know us for our empathetic approach, serious commitment to client success, and passion for unlocking creative potential.  

Explore our case studies to see how we help our clients build software that strengthens their leadership and dominates the competition.

Leveraging Consumer Research to Innovate Mobile Health App

Read the case study

Thrivent mobile view with a photo of graduates at the front. White icons overlayed: a clock, dollar sign, degree

Putting a dent in the student debt crisis

Read the case study

Using Patient Journey Mapping to Design In-Person Experience and New Medical App

Read the case study


“We were impressed with Highland’s ability to envision and understand our customers at an emotional level. Their empathetic nature and industry insights allowed them to conduct excellent interviews, which well informed personas and journey maps and helped us create a more impactful customer partnership.”
Greg Kozak
CIO, College of Lake Country
“Their work confirmed the strategy we’d been working on and had made a multimillion-dollar investment in. It gave us insights into what changes we should make in our customer interactions.”

Global Marketing Director, Chemicals Company

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