SwordsweeperDesign Who asked for this feature?

Who asked for this feature?

As user experience designers we want to think that we know our users, what they want, what they do and how they do it. It is a mistake for us to think that we know more about what they want than they do. We spend most of our time behind closed doors designing improvements or new features all for the benefit of the user but we often forget to find out what it is that the user needs. This way of thinking is backwards and will bring little improvement for the user.

We can think all day about their needs and come to our own conclusions but your time will be better spent on discovering how your products are actually used. Ask questions like what is it they are tyring to accomplish or what do they need to do. What stands in the way of them accomplishing their tasks?

An answer to any one of those questions will result in better insight into your product. You know what your product was designed to do, you know all the features and how they work. Your users don’t benefit from that same detailed knowledge of the product and you may even be surprised to find that your product is not being used as intended.

Ask your users Find some users, pay them if you must, then ask them what they normally do with your product. Have them show you how they do it. Watch them and pay attention for their problem areas then you will be able to design solutions to overcome these areas of difficulty.

If you aren’t doing user research, you should. If you are having trouble explaining why you should, read this article: Five Techniques for Getting Buy-In for Usability Testing

But most importantly, remember… you are not the user, you are the designer.