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Users won't do what you expect

Jack Dyer
|
July 21, 2016

Your users won’t always do what you think

Never assume your users will do what you think. Definitely don’t assume they’ll do what you want.

When visiting the mens toilets and washing your hands, you tend to want to get out of there as soon as possible. It’s smelly, sometimes unclean, and there’s often someone less than 2 metres from you doing a poo.

So you want to pick the hand dryer that’s going to allow you to exit the quickest. Most people are now accustomed to the quick ‘super-dry’ machine. Innovated originally by Dyson, these dry your hands in around 10 seconds, and are excellent. They’re certainly the ones that I use when drying — I just be careful not to touch the bacteria-ridden sides.

However I noticed one chap finish washing his hands faster than me, then moved to the one on the left. This is the slower, more time-consuming, less powerful and less effective dryer. He stood there for about a little while until I stood beside him and dunked my hands in the fast dryer. Mine dried in under 10 seconds and I left. While walking down the corridor, I could still hear his hands being laboriously dried.

It wasn’t a one-off either. I’d see him using it a few times and each time, he was making the conscious choice to use the less efficient dryer.

If it’s slower, why use it?

Whenever you interact with a product, you build up a mental model of it.

How it works, what it does, and how you use it. He’d clearly got into the habit of using that type of hand dryer, and it was more comfortable to him. Perhaps he didn’t like inserting his hands downwards into the new type of dryer. Perhaps he’d spent years using the old style, and wasn’t ready to change.

When you design, you need to expect the unexpected. Don’t design one solution and assume everyone will be comfortable with it. People like choice, but also remember that too much choice is a bad thing.

Lock your app down to one way of doing things, and people will quickly decide it’s ‘too locked down’ and ‘not flexible enough’, and discard it.

http://goo.gl/3A4kQ5

If you overwhelm the user with choice they’ll instantly flounder and become unsure of what to do, deeming your app ‘too complicated’. Separating them from their journey from A to B by providing too much choice is a recipe for disaster.

Do your user research, and trust your employees

If you dedicate employees or yourself to researching properly before making the decisions about what works best for the user, you’ll always stand a better chance of getting it right than charging ahead with baseless ideas. After all,anything is just a theory until it’s proven. And that’s science.

We’re always told to trust our instincts. And sometimes business leaders and entrepreneurs confuse their decisions for instinct, and trust them. And once they’ve accepted a decision they’ve made as fact (no matter how bad a decision it is), no amount of suggestions will change their mind. Sound familiar? Yet if the investors or key stakeholders say call them out on the decision, only then will you reconsider.

http://assets.amuniversal.com/385a41006ccb01301d50001dd8b71c47

If you’re an entrepreneur, founder, manager or key decision-maker in your business, please listen to your employees. Your UX designers, your UI designers, your software engineers or developers. They count as users too, and have valid opinions as humans that you should consider. Then, combine their input with the results you get from user testing your (and their) assumptions.

The results will allow you to create a product that’s inline with what customers actually both want and need, and more importantly not what you think they want or need.

After all what’s more important: Your pride or your profit?

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

Jack Dyer
Jack is a UX designer at Sonovate. Advocate of Human Centred Design. Deep thinker; tea drinker; steak eater.

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