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.

Author: prescienta

Prescientas ruler

3 thoughts on “Let’s Ask the User!”

  1. It’s even stated as a law that you should avoid asking users.

    Second law of usability (according to Søren Lauesen):
    “There is little correlation between subjective satisfaction and objective performance.”

    1. I think you can ask users about their problems, and then it is your responsibility to come up with a good solution. Unfortunately, most people have a tendency to tell you what they consider a good solution. That suggestion is often limited by the imagination and know-how of the client, so if you have someone who simply relays the users proposed solution, it can be real hard to figure out what the problem is. Every user is egocentric, and will ask you to design the product solely around their particular needs. If you try to cater to all of them, you are going to get a horrible product. Naturally, the product is going to get even worse if you blindly implement the features the way the user envisions them done.


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