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Heart or brain: Which to use to measure design quality?

heart and mind brain on seesaw quality and quantity
Heart or brain? quality or quantity? Which do you prefer?

I went out with a guy over the summer who was 13 years older than me. It wasn’t that big of a deal, but I was only 15 years old at the time. My mom told me to use my head and stay away from him.

Mom was worried that we were in different life stages. He was 28 and maybe looking for a long-term partner. She feared I’d end up married too early and drop out of school.

Being the typical love-crazy teen, I told her she was overthinking. I was heartbroken and begged her to let me see him again. After a teary three-day saga, summer was over, and I never heard from him again.

Years later, I saw him online with a younger wife, and I thought, “Mom was probably right.” It’s cool to follow your heart, but remember to bring your brain along.

The good, the bad, and the design approach

When it comes to design, just like in life, you need a balance of head (quantitative) and heart (qualitative) to see how your projects turn out.

Quantitative measures use hard data and metrics to gauge success, while qualitative measures are all about gathering feedback and user experiences.

The qualitative angle involves getting user comments and expert evaluations.

User feedback lets you understand how people interact with your design: what they like and what they don’t. An expert assessment is like having a pro artist critique your work, providing invaluable insight and showing you where to tweak.

But it’s not all roses with qualitative measures, you see? User feedback can be biased or represent only a tiny group, and an expert’s view may be influenced by their taste. Plus, qualitative methods can be time-consuming and tricky to analyse.

The thing is, quantitative methods also have their pros and cons.

Surveys and usability tests provide data and metrics, like sign-up rates or task completion times. These can guide your decision-making and help track progress.

Yet, the quantitative path has its pitfalls, as it might not capture users’ emotional responses, and designing useful surveys and tests can be a real headache.


heart and mind brain on bike quality and quantity
Quality and quantity: use both to gauge design efficacy.

Picking your battle

Choosing between qualitative and quantitative methods depends on your project’s goals and constraints.

If your goal is to make users happier, qualitative measures like user comments might do the trick. If you need to assess a feature’s efficiency, something measurable like A/B testing may be more useful.

There are plenty of case studies that show the magic of blending qualitative and quantitative methods to evaluate design quality.

Like, this Nielsen Norman Group study found that using both methods was the secret sauce to boosting a website’s usability.

The missing piece of the puzzle

Picking the right ways to evaluate design quality is key to crafting designs that hit the mark. 

Qualitative and quantitative approaches both have their strengths and weaknesses, but combining them can give you the most accurate and useful feedback.

But here’s the kicker: all this data you gather won’t do jack unless you act on it to enhance your design or service. 

That’s where Deer Designer steps in. We’re here to help you level up your designs, boost your stats, and put a smile on your customers’ faces.