Stepping into shoes of the user

Do designers or engineers know what is the best for the users of the services and products they create? Do you know? Do I?

I don’t, but I’ll find out.

For doing that there are two very basic things to take into account in the early stages of the design process: 1) It is not about the service or product. It is about the users. 2) It is not about me. It is about the users.

At first, designing good user experiences is not only about understanding how a user uses and interacts with a product, a service or a system. Rather it deals with understanding the whole context of the users and their environment. It requires understanding on how people interact with each other, how they behave and what problems they face in everyday life.

Secondly, it is dangerous if a designer thinks only from her / his own perspective and not from the users’. Then she / he is doing something for her- / himself and not for the users. It is me-centric, not user-centric design. Something that is the coolest thing for me is not necessarily interesting for the users at all. Users are living in their own context with their own behaviour and daily challenges and needs.

Sounds simple, but how to do it in practice?

It requires strong emotional approach. Designer should jump into shoes of a user. It is possible, for instance, by observing or interviewing users or participating in their normal activities in their everyday context or by involving them into creating new service and product concepts through participatory design methods.

Understanding the life of the users holistically enables designing services and products that are meaningful and that really help and pleasure the users in their everyday life, no matter if it is personal life or work life.