The thing about being ‘tech savvy’, whether as a builder or a heavy user, is that we can get very caught up in how WE use stuff. Which can lead to a very myopic view of product and product design, to state the bleeding obvious.
The good news is that computer/web users are all around us. It’s super simple to keep in touch with how the average person uses virtual stuff. And since I’ve been doing a lot of it lately, I thought I’d share my simple research skillz with ya.
- Stalk your close ones. Always keep an eye on how your family, friends, people you live with navigate sites. You’ll be amazed at how differently they do a Google search or get to a YouTube clip compared to… well, you. Example: I NEVER go to Google.com as a starting point…. people around me on the other hand….
- If you’re anything like me, you might not have access to as many ungeekified people as you’d like. This is where stealth stalking comes in handy. Hang out at cafes, libraries, airports, anywhere you might encounter a bunch of people tap, tap, tapping away. You can glean a lot by glancing at your neighbour’s screen every now and then. (Not too much – the point isn’t to freak them out)
- Pay attention to how customer service people behave with their machines. See, gives you something productive to do while in line, instead of resorting to queue-angst tweeting.
There’s a wealth of information out there, and all you need to do is observe. Umm… and then apply obviously. I guarantee you’ll be more aware of the fact that your experience of the web is markedly different from most others’. At the very least, it’ll provide different perspectives. At the best, what you’ve seen will haunt you when you next draw up a user-flow chart or wireframe.