Let’s Ask the User!

It has been demonstrated over and over again that “asking the users” can be a terrible idea when it comes to user interface design, yet you still encounter people who fancy themselves UI designers,  but feel that the users should tell you how to solve a UI problem.

You can’t design an application without interacting with users, but I never, ever, ask people to tell me how to design things. I often ask “in your opinion, what is the most difficult or annoying thing about XYZ”. If there is a consensus about something being difficult to accomplish, I will do a mock-up and show it to the interested parties. When a designer says that he has found a usability problem, but he is asking the users how to resolve it, I get lightheaded and have to sit down for a while.

So please, if you fancy yourself a designer, and there is a problem, you find the solution. not the users.