On the other hand, users can surely accept or reject products, which promotes competition and forces companies to come up with better designed and innovative products. An obvious statement but important to point out.
The truth is — users are not designers and they should not just start designing products. Personalization of a given product is fine, but designing a full product — may be not. Let designers do this job. Users are trained to use things, designers are trained to design. Most of the time end users are not even domain experts, and even if they do know a domain inside out, they might lack the expertise to convert that domain knowledge into good design solutions.
Let’s ask the users
Whenever there is a discussion about design choices, the usual approach to resolve this by going to the users and asking them about it — what their thoughts are and how to solve it. It is a dangerous culture and bad practice. You can surely get users opinion but can not just start drastically changing things based users feedback. Users can surely give you inputs but can not (and should not) suggest how to resolve. Again, let designers do it.
Let’s define jobs for users and designers
I repeat, it’s the responsibility of designers, not the users to come up with great designs and solutions. A designer, however, can be a very bad user, and similarly, a user on the other hand, makes for a very poor designer. This is not interchangeable.
Scope of Usability Testing
Now we have established (forcefully) that users are not always right and should not suggest design solutions, that really limits the scope of Usability Testing done on users. During the usability testing, users can provide feedback, not all of them is going to be meaningful though. Designers then need to make a design decision based on other research and user’s feedback. Users can not (and should not) suggest what changes should be made.
Here is a quote from Alan Cooper, UX guru, father of Visual Basic and author of the classic book The Inmates Are Running The Asylum.
“You’ve got to have software designed by experts, software is too complicated and too big and too costly and too difficult to let users have anything to do with it.”
– Alan Cooper
Heuristic Reviews as an alternative to Usability Testing
Because of the limitation and lack on usefulness of Usability Testing, heuristic reviews can be more effective while gathering design feedback. Here at FeedbackGuru.com, we do Heuristic Reviews (AKA Expert Design Reviews). Our design experts thoroughly inspect and review product/web designs. Design Experts can not only identify possible usability and other design related issues, they can also propose practical and implementable solutions.
To summarize, let users do the job they do the best — use design and products. Let companies decide what products to launch and let designers design it.
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