Your Users are not Idiots

Roel M. Hogervorst

2020/07/03

Sometimes I see people complain about their users; ‘This guy is just an idiot!'. I design software for people and I totally get that feeling from reading bug reports or stack overflow questions from users that just don’t seem to get it.

But we should not call them idiots, and we can use bugreports or other actions by our ‘idiot users’ as a signal to where to improve your work. Because maybe you the creator, are the idiot here.

Many things in life seem perfectly made for the people who made them, and few others.[1]

I believe there are (at least) three things you need to take into account:

conclusion

And what does it mean for you: you have to iterate and show your work to a diverse set of users, learn from their actions, ask questions. And improve your work. Iterate and improve. But design is also specific, specific to certain users doing some action.

So if you have ‘idiot users’, investigate if you did not design it right for them, or if they were not the target audience.

If you notice that people are using your work for a thing it was not designed for there is an opportunity: ‘I’m sorry that was not the usecase we designed this product for, but we can create a version that really works for that usecase’.

[1]: How design makes the world - Scott Berkun (2020) isbn:978-1-989603-24-6

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