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Changing perspectives and doing the crazy thing

Like it or not, but tech peo­ple of­ten have their way of do­ing things. Together we’ve drunk the same drink telling us that this is the way of do­ing things”, and we re­peat­edly cre­ate prod­ucts where we in­cor­po­rate this way of think­ing, which go gen­er­a­tions back (slight over-ex­ag­ger­a­tion).

This text is quite ab­stract and in­cludes no con­crete cases, but stay with me. I think every­one agrees on the fact that in in­ter­face and in­ter­ac­tion de­sign, there are some well-known and stan­dard ways of solv­ing prob­lems. This but­ton should go in this view at the top right, and this kind of field should go here”. You should be able to in­put this kind of data here, and reach this view from that view”. And so on.

But some­times, it does­n’t have to be like that. Sometimes, the most in­tu­itive, pure and sim­ple way of solv­ing a prob­lem comes from a sin­gle  user.

This user is per­haps untainted”, i.e. not tech savvy/​used to these kinds of in­ter­faces. A blunt com­par­i­son would be a child: un­cyn­i­cal and who’s see­ing the world with youth­ful and op­ti­mistic eyes. This user may see things in our in­ter­face which re­ally should be there, but is­n’t, since we’ve been drilled not to put it there since it’s crazy” and isn’t how it’s been done”.

This has hap­pened to me not too many times. My par­ents and friends has some­times out­right said Why can’t I achieve <action> from here?”. Where can I see <feature>?”. That was stuff I had­n’t even imag­ined to put there! First, I had re­jected it, since I thought it did­n’t make sense, but af­ter some con­tem­pla­tion, I found it to­tally log­i­cal and ob­vi­ous from a user’s point of view.

Thus, I think test­ing on real users is vi­tal in or­der for your prod­uct to be a prod­uct of the peo­ple”. The op­ti­mal thing (as I haven’t done in this post) would be to scrap the term user” and in­stead use human” or person” in­stead. They help you see things you could­n’t see be­fore. They are a medium be­tween what your prod­uct is and what it should be, since we some­times can’t see through the bar­rier our­selves. Sketch be­low.

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			User as medium

Look upon it as the story about Narnia: we can’t ac­cess Narnia when we’re too old, only live it through our chil­dren. So do the crazy thing, and go where you would­n’t go be­fore. For fun and profit.