Jose Cuevas, Electronic Arts
It’s a common misconception amongst developers that they know or understand what users want or need. It is equally a misconception that users know or understand what they want or need. However, what users want or need is much easier to identify once they actually use the product or service. So how do you design a product or service without being able to accurately determine the requirements prior to releasing it?
“…when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”, Sherlock Holmes (Doyle 1890, 111).
Like a great sleuth faced with the daunting task of solving an impossibly complex mystery, you must eliminate the different layers of misconception to reveal what undoubtedly must be the truth. There are many clues, also known as “smells”, which can lead you to the truth about your design. However, these smells can only be sensed by those who are willing to evaluate their own product or service with an open mind and a proactive approach.
There are two ways to identify smells:
- Study and learn material on subjects related to the user experience.
- Test and observe actual users performing tasks with your product or service.
It has been my experience that testing and observation is not very effective if you haven’t spent time gaining an appropriate level of knowledge with user experience design. I have also discovered that explaining poor design is usually met with resistance and disbelief by developers. However, seeing is believing and developers should eat their own dog food once in a while. It’s not my goal to discuss a lot of technical jargon, but to instead guide the audience of this presentation on an interactive journey as we explore the user experience through the eyes of the customer and sniff out user experience smells.