You were asked to design a website for a new client. As always, you prepared 5 samples for the customer to choose from. Come decisions time, the customer chose a design you think was not the best. It is the design you didn’t spend as much time as the others. You only spent 10 minutes on it because the presentation is 15 minutes away and you have no choice because your company promised 5 designs.
You say to yourself, “Gosh, this guy has no taste!” But it’s OK. He’s the one paying the bills.
How many times have you been in this situation?
Many designers and software developers think users are like them. Whenever they get a customer inquiry on how to do this in their webapp or software, they can’t resist saying “What?! It’s so obvious!”
As designers and developers, we should accept the truth the users are our exact opposite. We can read a stack dump, they can’t. We know what a proxy error is, they don’t. We know how to hold Ctrl-key and drag using the mouse, they would crinch at the thought of doing it. Yes, even that dude with a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology can become stupid when holding a mouse.
99.99% of all companies will say they are customer-oriented; that they design their products with usability and experience a top priority. Is it really true or is it just one of the many marketing lies?
Gather your team and ask them to find ways to improve the navigation in your webapp or lessen the time to complete a task. Chances are your team won’t get excited. After all, these are not cool stuffs.
What if you ask them to use Ajax, tags, RSS, or make your application “Web 2.0” enabled. That would get them excited and pumped-up.