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User Research: Balancing the Left and Right Brain

Posted by Dmitri Williams

Oct 16, 2013 4:17:00 PM

“You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!”

So goes the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup ad in which two great tastes are miraculously combined, to the delight of partisans of both chocolate and peanut butter.

It’s not quite that simple in science, where the team of labcoats who really, really like chocolate don’t exactly get along with the team that likes peanut butter.

In this case, the chocolate is a proxy for hard numbers--experiments, surveys, big data. We call this quantitative research. The peanut butter is squishier stuff--observations, interviews and participant observation. Both of these approaches are valuable to developers, but what keeps them separate are the scientists themselves.

Why? This is a left-brain/right-brain issue. Some people are more drawn to the logical and others to the creative. If you’re a game or mobile app developer, you recognize that some of your staff are ace programmers, some are ace artists, and the overlap is pretty rare. This is true in every industry.

The quantitative stuff is almost always given more weight than the squishy interview work. After all, who can argue with numbers and graphs? Yet there’s a risk in avoiding the squishy. Here’s why.

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Topics: Game Analytics, User Research, Left and Right Brain, Quantitative Research, Chocolate and Peanut Butter, Qualitative Research

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