Good morning,

I plan on running an online shop-along to observe how users interact with our website. I asked for 7 users but the management approved the budget for 6 and wanted to split the 6 into two tests. One for child company a, the only child company b (they both sell similar products but under two different brands). I suggested doing this only for one brand but was rejected.

I don't think 3 is enough, to observe patterns with enough level of confidence. But don't want to lose this opportunity.

Any suggestions?

Thanks very much!

2 Answers 2


In qualitative methods, even three participants is a million times better than none if you use it for hypotheses generation and not as a means to gather data. You will often be able to get insights which you can later validate with analytics. You won't be able to claim that you've discovered any objective truths about user behavior, but you might leave with plenty of material to check using quant methods. Of course you might also come out empty-handed, but I think that's a risk well worth taking.

  • Thanks very much Vitaly, I plan on using it to validate my journey mapping hypothesis. With this in mind, would you still think 3 is better than none?
    – lu yan
    Feb 1 at 17:42
  • Um... Not a million times better at any rate :). For validation purposes I don't think it holds up. It should be relatively easy to accomplish with analytics though. Feb 1 at 17:54
  • 1
    Analytics definitely help. But metrics can only validate what's already on the website, and only users' actions. For user's thoughts, preferences not strong enough to move the dial, or something not present on the site (what users wish to see), analytics won't be able to capture
    – lu yan
    Feb 1 at 18:00
  • If it's about thoughts and attitudes I don't think that 3 people can provide much of a validation. Feb 1 at 18:09
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    might have to skip this time. Thanks very much for your input, help me clear my mind
    – lu yan
    Feb 1 at 19:22

I had so often no opportunity for any user research that this one would shine :) Actually, having 3 participants is nothing for quantitative research but if you can transform your protocol into a qualitative one that is another story.

It might be quite productive and insightful, especially having two events like that - the second one will definitely be fruitful.

even if some observations would be contradictive - that would be good proof you need more participants for another round.

  • Thanks Nidea! I like your last comment "even if some observations would be contradictive - that would be good proof you need more participants for another round", it makes a lot of sense!
    – lu yan
    Feb 2 at 16:11
  • Just thought I would update: the full budget just has been approved! Yay!
    – lu yan
    Feb 3 at 18:49

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