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“You are not the user!!!”- Really?

by Roshan Raju
2 min read
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“You are not the user!!!”- Really ?

“You are not the user!” This is what designers are supposed to be telling themselves. But this is the real question: “Are they really?” Here is what we’re about to find out!

I have spent the majority of my design career designing for B2B products. My audience has mostly been skilled engineers who are expected to be tech-savvy. After spending considerable time with these B2B products, I wanted to answer a question in the back of my mind – Is it okay to consider myself a possible user for the products and design stuff that I would like in the product?

“You are not the user!!!”- Really? The man is being angry.

“You are not the user” I now prefer to think that these words by Don Norman were supposed to tackle the problem of the False-consensus effect. The false-consensus effect refers to people’s tendency to assume that others share their beliefs and will behave similarly in a given context.

“You are not the user!!!”- Really? The man is smiling and talking about design.

I was really captivated by the phrase — “You are not the user”-in the initial stages of my design career. I used to exclude myself from the target audience completely and rely totally on the user-research insights.

I learned two things through experience.

“You are not the user!!!”- Really? There are 2 people on the picture: a woman and a child. Design for nerd and noob

The B2B companies recruit people from all walks of life with different backgrounds. As a result, the product you develop might not necessarily be always used by tech-savvy Audio Engineer. It could be used by an Engineer who still writes his to-do list on a piece of paper and sticks it on the monitor. It could be used by a complete amateur who is using the product you designed on his first day at the job. As a general rule, it’s better to design for both Noob and Nerd.

“You are not the user!!!”- Really? The man is painting and adding his touch in design.

If all features in a product were to be a subset of the requirements explicitly mentioned by the target audience, then where are we leaving the room for creativity. Pull up to refresh, Long press on a touch screen button, 3D touch, etc., are all examples of creative thinking which have become a mainstay in today’s world.

So maybe, I AM a user… So are you 🙂

“You are not the user!!!”- Really? The man is waving hello at you.
post authorRoshan Raju

Roshan Raju,

A designer with a passion for Enterprise Software Design. I love understanding complex systems, breaking it down and presenting it in a form that can be understood and used by all. My current line of work is in the Semiconductor industry where I am designing software for Management and Analysis of huge chunks of measurement data.

Ideas In Brief
  • The author questions the statement “You are not the user” and believes it to produce false-consensus effect.
  • If you might be a user of something you are designing for, it may be unnecessary to completely exclude yourself from the target audience and rely totally on the user-research insights. It might be better to design for both Noob and Nerd.

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