Love thy user

It’s not rocket science, as Wojciech Zielinski writes.

Getting out and talking to users one would hope that those with UX in their titles, are doing – it’s just what needs to be done. We don’t design for ourselves.

I applaud the title of this article – falling in love with users – and yet, sometimes I’ve seen it lacking. In some larger organisations, I have witnessed sizeable research teams observe user sessions and either laugh or shake their head at a user’s chosen behaviour.

Yes, users are unpredictable. They – as well as we – all have different experiences of how we see and perceive the world. They will pull and test the software in ways that not one or many UX designers can foresee. That’s why we test.

But not only test. Research our user, their worlds and what they do. While it can sound extravagant, it all helps paint the landscape of where our products belong. Useful and usable products should ideally fill a gap or be embedded in an existing workflow.

Implications for designing for Generation Z and beyond

A recent presentation at York St John’s University explored the rise of perfectionism in young people. Researchers in the UK found a greater degree of competition and the need to outstrip others had risen in the last 30 years. Demand to do better was found to not only be pressure they put on themselves, but from external factors – namely, parents.

Photo credit | @daria.shevtsova via Pexels

Three key factors of the research identified:

  • The extent to which young people attach an irrational importance to being perfect, hold unrealistic expectations of themselves, and are highly self-critical has increased by 10%

  • The extent to which young people impose unrealistic standards on those around them and evaluate others critically has increased by 16%

  • The extent to which young people perceive that their environment is excessively demanding, that others judge them harshly, and that they must display perfection to secure approval has risen by 33%.

The budding sociologist in me found this fascinating, and one’s study of a week’s worth of news and current affairs, will witness the enormous pressures faced on today’s youth.

The user experience designer in me saw the implications for product and service design. See point 2 above, the rise in expectations of those around them. It’s logical to take from this, a rise in expectation of how well products and services they use, function. But still in software development, there are ill-conceived interactions and work flows that bear little connection to the intended users.

Be this due to conflicting priorities, lack of resource to make it happen, development-minded organisations and product management, or any other reason.

This has implication for everyone, and everything.