Saturday, 23 April 2011

When not to listen to users

Jakob Nielsen advises watch what people do, don't listen to what they say. Which is fair enough in the sense that your customers aren't designers. This article by design company Sliced Bread is worth a read as it goes through the kinds of things that customers can tell you that are actually useful, and what you should definitely ignore and why.

The article opens with a classic quote which for me sums it all up:
Henry Ford once said that, if he’d asked his customers what they wanted, they’d have asked for a faster horse.
The key points in this article are based around the nature of what you ask:
  • Problems vs solutions: your customer can tell you about the problems they're having or why they like one feature over another. Their solutions to the problems aren't necessarily going to be the best ones though.
  • Past vs future events: You can trust your customer to tell you what they thought of the meal they just ate, but be wary of what they say they'll be eating for dinner tomorrow.
  • Users vs other people: They can tell you what they think, but not all customers thing alike. And they don't care what your other customers think.
A Faster Horse – When Not To Listen To Users: article on

Previous post: What user say vs what they do

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