The Sixth W

Mixed methods approach

The Sixth W is our name, but it also denotes an approach that we call WITH. This implies a method, or rather multiple methods: mixed, multidimensional and multidisciplinary, all undergoing continuous improvement.


We combine various skills drawn from anthropology, psychology, research and data analysis, to detect needs, listen to emotions and help people reconnect with each other.

The integration of mixed methods gives shape to a malleable system that alters, expands and is refined with the continuous contribution of an evolving team of researchers and professionals. A model that we hope will spread, thereby integrating and extending the methods of recognition and restitution. It is an approach that brings together man and science, while also combining quantitative and qualitative analysis.

Mixed research methods involve the integration of quantitative and qualitative methods. The key concept is that integration goes beyond simply freeing up tools from different traditions. The empirical evidence differences between “quantity” and “quality” do not explain the hyper-sectorial verticality or the radicality that has marked this distinction in the scientific disciplines in recent years.

The contrast between sciences with the suffix “-ics” and those with the suffix “-logy” – arguably between Cartesian and hermeneutic concepts of science – should not be taken to the extreme. It is more about clarifying which of the two is the base-method: to measure or to understand. It is not a question of determining which of these models is true or false, but of establishing which one is right for the issue and goals at hand.


The orientation of quantitative and qualitative research methods are complementary, depending on the particular issue: in The Sixth W model, quantity and quality converge to provide a comprehensive vision and to collect all the participant feedback we think is necessary to understand the experience lived through.


We refer to an approach and methods in the plural, because there are many of them, like the activities that we present as if they were distinct. But in fact ours is a unique activity: experience, or rather, listening to experience.

In our laboratory and field tests, we analyse the behaviour and expectations of people across many points of contact in their relations with the companies and their products or services. The mixed methods approach uses experiential tests combined with quantitative analysis models in order to obtain a complete and objective vision.

On the basis of test and analysis results, we design and optimise people’s experience with the aim of enhancing its value by listening to and taking care of the outcomes.

The method consists in the use of qualitative research protocols and of neurotechnologies or more correctly bio-metric instruments (such as eye trackers, biometric sensors and stimulus sensors and monitoring of the so-called brain activity) and analysis tools that help us detect physiological attention, emotional, cognitive, interactional and behavioral data in relation to analogical or digital interfaces.

This approach could be called neuroscientific or neuromarketing. We prefer to talk about psychophysiology and applied neuroscience in the study of consumers and in the experience analysis of users, which we call people.

Our approach involves, depending on the scope of designated analysis, the joint use of quantitative and qualitative methods. These methods in turn refer to the subjective or objective sphere.

An approach of this kind is useful in that it ensures not only richer quality information but also a more solid and consistent representation of the entity being examined.

The table below shows how the data collection methodologies used by TSW are mapped within the framework of this approach:


Who are these participants?

They are people who live their lives, have a past and imagine their future. They have memories, skills, requirements, expectations, dreams and needs.

The people who undergo our tests as users help us collect all the information needed to create and improve solutions or find better or unexplored ideas. The people representing “client” companies put themselves on the same plane as their customers to jointly understand and design the best browsing and purchasing experience, etc. The people who make up our team bring cross-cutting expertise from the fields of digital marketing, user experience, human sciences and quantitative and qualitative data analysis.

This approach allows us to enhance the value of time and the quality of experience, allowing people to reconnect and come into contact with each other in all places.

Time: is the measure of experience. Time is also the quality of the experiences that we have; it is the measure of simplicity. It is not a quantitative but a qualitative measure, because it is the most precious of all resources. By involving people, we want to be able to give the same importance to time: the time when a certain experience happens, and the memory of that moment; the sole pre-requisite for the relationship with the experience and its vehicle, whether artefact or interface.

Relationship can be defined as the point of intersection between people, places and time. They converge to create a relationship that becomes experience.

We listen to needs, emotions, experiences and expectations. We help convey and translate the implicit or unconscious aspects of people’s experiences. We continually involve people, from the design stage to review of strategy for digital and physical environments.

Places, seen as measured space, are places of interaction, physical locations, actual meeting points. We go beyond the digital because people live in different places; they are both the people and places that intersect with each other. From the digital to the physical and vice versa: in a cross-media and omnichannel universe that encompasses and relates to people here and now; in a single dimension that is seamlessly digital and physical, but which also exists in time.


The physical and digital place: artefacts and interfaces

Artefacts can be considered as the material means through which individuals interact with the environment. That is why we can talk not just about digital, but analogue also; the concept can however be extended to cover not only the material nature and usage of artefacts: language, in this sense, is also an artefact. This is how we use the term, as it is used in psychology. But we also use the word interface.

Interface is simply the point of contact between two opposing entities. An interface is generally considered to be the area or surface on which two qualitatively different entities meet. The term, often used in computer science, in our view has a wider and more interesting scope because it indicates a point of contact and can thus refer to objects, spaces, etc. and implies contact only through the relationship or the interconnection.

These are the points of contact between brands and people; whether we call them artefacts or interfaces, they in fact feed our experience, and the better they are – meaning the more natural the interfaces and the simpler the objects, then the more pleasant, beautiful and satisfying our experience will be.

In a world where experiences are multiplied, we take care of their value. We think that only those who make a radical choice today, i.e. changing their work goal from profit to value, will really overcome the challenge of the future. Because profit is not a purpose (and ethically never really has been). It is a result. Having a purpose means that the things we do are of real value for others.


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