Some people think that its great to talk about how fantastic the product is. How awesome the product is, how it has benefits, how its different to the competition. Internet related products are soooo guilty of this, with so many sites crammed with pro version features, upgrade benefits and awards from pay-to-enter competition.
Stop – Whats the clients goals?
Its your job, as a UX designer, to help users be AWESOME!!!!! With that in mind its much easier to look at who is important, and why they are important. Its your job to make the site into the perfect host. The site should be empowering the user to become awesome.
Why make the user awesome?
Because it makes the business money. Many of the best products on the web today, started out with a MVP (Minimum Viable Product), then just kept on building and building until the product became too complex, too cluttered. But by loving the user, the products have stopped prioritizing users requests for additional functionality. Instead, put the users experience at the center. A great example would be operating systems like Windows and MacOS, or productivity tools like Word, Excel, Adobe Suite.
Become the perfect host
As user experience designers, we want to build and think like the perfect host at a party. Greeting and addressing the needs of our guests. Making them feel comfortable. Making sure they have their glasses full, that everyone is part of the party and not on the sidelines. A great host will anticipate the needs and plan ways of meeting them. For me it seems like hours of shopping, preparation and then cooking. For my wife, it is more greeting, circling, bring groups together, making introductions.
If you love your guest. The effort seems to be more like a joy, the way we even think about the needs, becomes more realistic and even beyond what the guest thinks they needed. I remember at my sons last birthday party, a guest commented that he did not know how hungry he was until he saw me working hard cooking in the kitchen and making canapes.
If we love our guests we think about their true needs, their dreams, how we can make them awesome.
The Mom Users
One way to think in the right frame of mind is to user the mom approach. When you come face to face with any problem related to the user, just think WWMD (What Would Mom Do). The first correct thing that your doing is thinking like Mum, or thinking not like you, which is so important when looking at user related problems. The second thing is that you know your mom, you know her like a persona. But more importantly you can do the honest thing and state: “To be honest, my mum would ….”.
The Mom User is a great B.S. detector
When presented with content or text, which has a marketing or business/product slant to it. Test it against the Mom. What would Mom think? Would normal people understand the message, would they know why its being said. Or is it just the product tooting its own horn (Toot toot). Its the role of the UX designer to work with marketing, to stop marketing from misleading the user, stop marketing from harassing the user, start marketing on the road to communicating and building the brand experience with the user.
So the Mom user can be that persona that lives in your head and keeps you honest. Gives you that feeling of when there is something wrong.
The Mom is not like your real users
Its hard to get the Mom persona to work in every context, its hard to explain to clients using your Mom as an example. But what we are really saying is that we are looking at the problem with empathy (with the users best interest at heart).
At the critical stage when the client wants to break everything
There is always a moment in the project, sometimes mid way, most of the time near to or at the end, when the client loses focus on the user and wants to make changes which really impact the user experience. From my experience its when the prototype is shown to people which the client respects or is senior to the client.
The client will want to make changes to the user experience, which can really break the whole product or website. It is at this time, that the client needs to be questioned as to the true motivation behind why they want to make these changes. This is where empathy comes into the toolbox. By having empathy with your users, you can approach the impact from the users perspective, explain this impact and suggest better ways to deliver the new idea which the client is forcing into the project. Sometimes, more often then not, the client realizes once its pointed out clearly, that the idea is a spanner and they (if they are being true to project) remove the idea off the table.
So remember, like, have empathy, and make your users awesome. When in any doubt, take your mom to work.