Everyone's a user WAS: (no subject)

24 Jan 2007 - 7:12am
7 years ago
26 replies
308 reads
Soo Basu
2005

Hi
How do you counter the argument that the product you're designing is for
everyone?
How do I convince product teams to think through who their target users are?
best,
Soo

--
"The details are not the details. They make the design' - Charles Eames
****************************************************************************
Sunandini Basu
Interaction Designer
****************************************************************************

Comments

24 Jan 2007 - 8:57am
AlokJain
2006

Sunandini,

There is a reason why you are asking for that information, it impacts
certain design decisions. In my experience it works to play with product
teams and then move on to follow up question which require this input. Right
questions help get right answers, so try changing the language of question
as well.. this in turn will depend on kind of people you are working with -
Marketing, IT etc..

Hope this helps..

--
Best Regards
Alok Jain
----------------------------------------------------------
http://www.iPrincipia.com

On 1/24/07, Sunandini Basu <sunandinibasu at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Hi
> How do you counter the argument that the product you're designing is for
> everyone?
> How do I convince product teams to think through who their target users
> are?
> best,
> Soo
>

24 Jan 2007 - 11:22am
Nasir Barday
2006

Well, maybe your product *is* for everyone. I've gotten the argument
that Lawyers, Bankers, Schools Admins, Church Admins, etc. all use a
product.

Which is fine-- what's important is to make sure all the scenarios
don't all get jumbled into one archetypical user. Maybe there isn't a
specific target user, but you can still describe the types of users
that will be using the product and generate scenarios from there.

Hope that helps,
- Nasir

24 Jan 2007 - 11:44am
Phillip Hunter
2006

I find that the old "everyone uses it" argument is really usually just a
case of looking at the possible groups the wrong way. Once you start
organizing users in alternate ways, segregating patterns will emerge and
provoke the desire for more detail. Rather than pushing the client about
this at the beginning, though, it might be better to do guerrilla prep and
then have them work from something more than a blank sheet of paper.

Phillip

24 Jan 2007 - 12:32pm
Dan Saffer
2003

On Jan 24, 2007, at 4:12 AM, Sunandini Basu wrote:

> How do you counter the argument that the product you're designing
> is for
> everyone?
> How do I convince product teams to think through who their target
> users are?

This is what personas should be used for. To turn "The User" from
some generic straw man that can be twisted any which way into
something more defined.

No product is for everyone. There will always be people who won't use
your product, even if the barrier to entry is very low.

24 Jan 2007 - 12:27pm
Lorne Trudeau
2006

If your team is stuck on the "it's for everyone" bandwagon then don't
try to classify your users. Stop the process and begin to classify the
actions. By approaching the design from a goal/action perspective you
should be able to get the team out of their stubborn rut.
Lorne

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Sunandini Basu
Sent: Wednesday, January 24, 2007 4:13 AM
To: IxDA Discuss
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] (no subject)

Hi
How do you counter the argument that the product you're designing is for
everyone?
How do I convince product teams to think through who their target users
are?
best,
Soo

24 Jan 2007 - 12:46pm
ldebett
2004

On 1/24/07, Dan Saffer <dan at odannyboy.com> wrote:

>
> No product is for everyone. There will always be people who won't use
> your product, even if the barrier to entry is very low.

Exactly. Not unless you're designing a toilet. And even then... ;-)

Even if your team says it's for "everyone", they need to be educated on how
their myopic view of "everyone" is still a small subset of the grand
population of the world. Once you start adding filters (must use a computer,
must read English/French/Spanish, must drive a car, must do banking online,
etc...) they will quickly see that it's really not for everyone...

~Lisa

24 Jan 2007 - 12:57pm
Josh
2006

I agree with the "classify the actions" strategy mentioned by Lorne. If you
know what the actions are, you can start thinking about how people are going
to accomplish those actions. This will bring "users" back into the picture.
The problem you might be facing is that your "users" aren't easily broken
down into the typical demographics (age, gender, location, etc.), so by
focusing on the actions/tasks you might be able to differentiate them.

It may be true that the product is a one-size fits all product, but you may
want to consider finding examples of the 80/20 rule. 80% of revenue is
generated by 20% of consumers. Recognizing who those 20% are and optimizing
for them should show improvements to the bottom line. I've found that the
easiest way to justify anything is to show the decision makers what affect
it will have on their pocketbooks. In fact, I wouldn't necessarily even make
a decision about something until someone was able to justify it based on the
bottom line.

You also might try explaining to them that a one-size fits all strategy
doesn't provide a sufficient level of detail. Marketing will have problems
trying to market a product to everyone, and ultimately they risk creating a
watered-down product that everyone can use but no one wants to.

- Josh Viney

24 Jan 2007 - 1:54pm
Brett Williams
2006

Besides maybe something monumental like the telephone, I don't think
its possible to design a product for "everyone". Even if you're
target audience is pretty big and broad, you still should have a
target demographic you are designing for . . . starting with basic
Who, What, How, Why type questions will help start the focus process.

Good luck,

bw

On Jan 24, 2007, at 7:12 AM, Sunandini Basu wrote:

> Hi
> How do you counter the argument that the product you're designing
> is for
> everyone?
> How do I convince product teams to think through who their target
> users are?
> best,
> Soo
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> --
> "The details are not the details. They make the design' - Charles
> Eames
> **********************************************************************
> ******
> Sunandini Basu
> Interaction Designer
> **********************************************************************
> ******
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
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> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

24 Jan 2007 - 2:57pm
.pauric
2006

If you are looking to persuade management as to why they should properly
define users then maybe suggest some of the pitfalls of an undefined set of
requirements, such as scope creep. Having focus will also aid
collaboration, through reducing the various debates that will inevitably
occur, as people put forward seemingly valid views on what their version of
the 'user'. User definition helps management evaluate feature priorities,
discounting some 'nice to have' options that are in fact not necessary and
generally keep resources allocated on core functionality.

It might be worthwhile citing gmail, google defined 6 types of mail user.
Their product is recognized as being best in class. They released a focused
product and have built upon it since then in a calculated manner. They did
not try a one size fits all on day one.

However, its important to remember that user definition does not mean the
end product will meet real user's needs. Its important to start small &
focused and then build upon feedback after the product is released.

24 Jan 2007 - 3:05pm
Jay Morgan
2006

1. Assume the product is for everyone and they cannot be immediately
segmented: Why will people use your product? What goals does it help them
accomplish? (What's the competition's feature set?)
2. Assume the user population can be easily segmented: Draw up some quick
segments: segment by user role; segment by demographic; segment by goal.

You want to demonstrate that different people can and will use the product
differently. Whether it's for everyone or for someone in particular, show
the team that use cases will vary by goal, by technology
aptitude/availability, by user role, et cetera.

The suggestion to work with personas is getting close: You can start by
breaking out segments of users according to different types (user role,
demographic, user goal, and so on). You can then develop those into
assumption personas or data-driven personas based on your resources and
needs.

Use examples to your favor: Look at software they're all familiar with and
show how use of that software differs significantly by user segment.

Set goals for what you want your team to learn: This is a huge challenge.
Set discrete goals to help the team understand the impact of different user
types. If you jump in now and tell them they have to have personas, you've
jumped a lot of steps that can help you. Start with basic lessons:
Recognize and agree that different customer segments will use the product
differently. Then, decide which customer segmentation model will work best
for you. Go from there.

< I work in a company who assumes that we design for everyone and who is
afraid of customer segmentation models altogether. We, the design teams,
still use assumption personas on many projects to solve our design
problems. We are now developing data-driven personas to standardize the
user models across teams. >

Good luck,
Jay

On 1/24/07, Sunandini Basu <sunandinibasu at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Hi
> How do you counter the argument that the product you're designing is for
> everyone?
> How do I convince product teams to think through who their target users
> are?
> best,
> Soo
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> --
> "The details are not the details. They make the design' - Charles Eames
>
> ****************************************************************************
> Sunandini Basu
> Interaction Designer
>
> ****************************************************************************
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

--
Jay Morgan
Applied cognitive scientist practicing information architecture, interaction
design, and corporate culture manipulation

24 Jan 2007 - 5:36pm
Phillip Hunter
2006

Even telephones (and the systems behind them) aren't designed for everyone.

Phillip

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Brett
Williams
Sent: Wednesday, January 24, 2007 1:55 PM
To: Sunandini Basu
Cc: IxDA Discuss
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] (no subject)

Besides maybe something monumental like the telephone, I don't think
its possible to design a product for "everyone". Even if you're
target audience is pretty big and broad, you still should have a
target demographic you are designing for . . . starting with basic
Who, What, How, Why type questions will help start the focus process.

Good luck,

bw

24 Jan 2007 - 7:44pm
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

"Exactly. Not unless you're designing a toilet. And even then... ;-)"
"Even telephones (and the systems behind them) aren't designed for
everyone."

You're debating semantics.

Clearly, the "everyone" in "we're designing for everyone" does not really
refer to "everyone". It refers to something more like, "a very broad range
of users, some of which are likely to be the exact opposite of each other,
who have internet connections, and are willing to do X, Y, and Z on the
web." Even the stakeholders realize that.

"Everyone" is a lot easier to say. Rolls off the tongue, you know?

So, yes, it is *very* possible to be tasked with designing a product that is
for "everyone". And it is *very* possible to succeed.

Cars, televisions, streets, water fountains - I could go on. Heck, I work
for a domain registrar - it's a prime example. These are all designed for
"everyone" within certain criteria. People can differ wildly and still fit
cleanly into a set of criteria.

-r-

24 Jan 2007 - 3:20pm
Steve O'Connell
2007

I believe Karen Holtzblatt talked about identifying who your target user is
by consulting the marketing team (or who ever holds information about sales
and revenue figures / projections) and see which demographic(s) provide the
most revenue. Companies tend to focus quickly where the almighty dollar is
concerned.

Cheers,

Steve

>
> Hi
> How do you counter the argument that the product you're designing is for
> everyone?
> How do I convince product teams to think through who their target users
> are?
> best,
> Soo
>

24 Jan 2007 - 8:41pm
Phillip Hunter
2006

I have to disagree on two points. I have definitely worked with stakeholders
who meant "everyone" literally. And there are significant populations that
do not benefit from any of the products mentioned or require significant
modifications to the version they do enjoy. And isn't ""everyone" within
certain *criteria*" just what we're saying: that there are definable groups?

Phillip

_____

From: Robert Hoekman, Jr. [mailto:rhoekmanjr at gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, January 24, 2007 7:44 PM
To: phillip at speechcycle.com
Cc: IxDA Discuss
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] (no subject)

"Exactly. Not unless you're designing a toilet. And even then... ;-)"
"Even telephones (and the systems behind them) aren't designed for
everyone."

You're debating semantics.

Clearly, the "everyone" in "we're designing for everyone" does not really
refer to "everyone". It refers to something more like, "a very broad range
of users, some of which are likely to be the exact opposite of each other,
who have internet connections, and are willing to do X, Y, and Z on the
web." Even the stakeholders realize that.

"Everyone" is a lot easier to say. Rolls off the tongue, you know?

So, yes, it is *very* possible to be tasked with designing a product that is
for "everyone". And it is *very* possible to succeed.

Cars, televisions, streets, water fountains - I could go on. Heck, I work
for a domain registrar - it's a prime example. These are all designed for
"everyone" within certain criteria. People can differ wildly and still fit
cleanly into a set of criteria.

-r-

24 Jan 2007 - 8:07pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Jan 24, 2007, at 7:12 AM, Sunandini Basu wrote:

> How do you counter the argument that the product you're designing
> is for
> everyone?
> How do I convince product teams to think through who their target
> users are?

In addition to Personas, you might consider talking about how all
these people will use it? Will each person have the same knowledge,
experience, skills, goals, and context? Are some combinations of
those 5 things more prevalent than others? (I'm on an airplane right
now, so I can't give you a link, but if you Google "site:uie.com 5
things to know" you'll find an article which talks about this in more
detail.)

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks

24 Jan 2007 - 10:25pm
steveg72
2006

I've been working with marketing teams for many years, in part to
understand customer requirements (I have also conducted my own market
research). Unfortunately, many marketing organizations understand
their distribution channels better than they understand their end
users. Customer visits with the sales channels and with end users
are very good if they can be arranged. Also, useful is writing
personas and asking marketing for feedback .

best wishes,

Steve

On Jan 24, 2007, at 3:20 PM, Steve O'Connell wrote:

> I believe Karen Holtzblatt talked about identifying who your target
> user is
> by consulting the marketing team (or who ever holds information
> about sales
> and revenue figures / projections) and see which demographic(s)
> provide the
> most revenue. Companies tend to focus quickly where the almighty
> dollar is
> concerned.
>
> Cheers,
>
> Steve
>
>>
>> Hi
>> How do you counter the argument that the product you're designing
>> is for
>> everyone?
>> How do I convince product teams to think through who their target
>> users
>> are?
>> best,
>> Soo
>>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

24 Jan 2007 - 10:49pm
Steve O'Connell
2007

Yes your mileage with marketing will vary, like all teams some are on the
ball and others aren't. That said, most of the companies I've worked with
know the demographics they sell to or at least the leading candidates - such
that target personas can readily be identified. Its not a total solution but
generally a good starting point.

Cheers,

Steve

On 1/24/07, steve greenspan <steveg72 at mac.com> wrote:
>
> I've been working with marketing teams for many years, in part to
> understand customer requirements (I have also conducted my own market
> research). Unfortunately, many marketing organizations understand
> their distribution channels better than they understand their end
> users. Customer visits with the sales channels and with end users
> are very good if they can be arranged. Also, useful is writing
> personas and asking marketing for feedback .
>
> best wishes,
>
> Steve
>
> On Jan 24, 2007, at 3:20 PM, Steve O'Connell wrote:
>
> > I believe Karen Holtzblatt talked about identifying who your target
> > user is
> > by consulting the marketing team (or who ever holds information
> > about sales
> > and revenue figures / projections) and see which demographic(s)
> > provide the
> > most revenue. Companies tend to focus quickly where the almighty
> > dollar is
> > concerned.
> >
> > Cheers,
> >
> > Steve
> >
> >>
> >> Hi
> >> How do you counter the argument that the product you're designing
> >> is for
> >> everyone?
> >> How do I convince product teams to think through who their target
> >> users
> >> are?
> >> best,
> >> Soo
> >>
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> > List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> > (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> > Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> > Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> > Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> > Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>
>

24 Jan 2007 - 11:19pm
Mark Schraad
2006

It is important to understand that while we may borrow Marketing
research (and importantly different discipline from Market research)
marketers have very different goals and objectives than designers.
Bringing marketers in to substantiate segments (not by the way
determined by demographics) is very helpful. But Marketing research
is typically shallow. Design research must go deeper to reveal the
"why", thus the interest in ethnography, personae, scenarios and task/
activity analysis/

Mark

On Jan 24, 2007, at 10:49 PM, Steve O'Connell wrote:

> Yes your mileage with marketing will vary, like all teams some are
> on the
> ball and others aren't. That said, most of the companies I've
> worked with
> know the demographics they sell to or at least the leading
> candidates - such
> that target personas can readily be identified. Its not a total
> solution but
> generally a good starting point.
>
> Cheers,
>
> Steve
>
>
> On 1/24/07, steve greenspan <steveg72 at mac.com> wrote:
>>
>> I've been working with marketing teams for many years, in part to
>> understand customer requirements (I have also conducted my own market
>> research). Unfortunately, many marketing organizations understand
>> their distribution channels better than they understand their end
>> users. Customer visits with the sales channels and with end users
>> are very good if they can be arranged. Also, useful is writing
>> personas and asking marketing for feedback .
>>
>> best wishes,
>>
>> Steve
>>

24 Jan 2007 - 11:57pm
Steve O'Connell
2007

I'm certainly not advocating regurgitating marketing research wholesale, but
they should know who it is that is buying a given product. If a team is
reluctant to reduce their target users from *everyone*, market research
data should readily be able to show that certain groups of people spend more
money on the product than others and it certainly wouldn't hurt to start a
target user / persona effort looking at these people. That's not to exclude
other users from the product, but if you concentrate your focus on everybody
then you focus on nobody.

Cheers,

Steve

On 1/24/07, Mark Schraad <mschraad at mac.com> wrote:
>
> It is important to understand that while we may borrow Marketing
> research (and importantly different discipline from Market research)
> marketers have very different goals and objectives than designers.
> Bringing marketers in to substantiate segments (not by the way
> determined by demographics) is very helpful. But Marketing research
> is typically shallow. Design research must go deeper to reveal the
> "why", thus the interest in ethnography, personae, scenarios and task/
> activity analysis/
>
> Mark
>
>

25 Jan 2007 - 12:04am
Soo Basu
2005

Hi
I've learnt a lot from this discussion. One key thing I can use right now is
classify actions. That will necessarily help in specifying user types in an
indirect way. Another is asking the right questions.

Using market research is a bit difficult right now, as there is no Marketing
dept, and design team is only me :(

Cheers
Soo

25 Jan 2007 - 6:20am
Soo Basu
2005

Why do you say that?

On 1/25/07, Esteban Barahona <esteban.barahona at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> I think we IxDers should answer this questions for ourselves first...
>

25 Jan 2007 - 9:12am
DrWex
2006

I do not disagree with the suggestion to classify actions, but I
disagree that one should leave people unclassified. In some cases you
can bring in Marketing or PM as allies here by asking questions like
"OK, great, so we have these people and what messages are we giving
them?" Because Marketing is used to thinking in terms of "market
segments" and naturally understands how you tailor messages to
different segments.

Another great question is to ask is what differentiates your
site/product from competitors. If you're selling books, what makes
you different from amazon, bn, abebooks, etc? One way to look at this
is how you'll visually differentiate your design. Another is to
figure out how your visitors will know you're better.

I don't see how it's possible to answer those questions without
speaking to the kind of persons the product is targeting. So you
slide in personae and user types by a kind of "back door" - maybe not
the optimal strategy but it beats banging your head on the dev teams'
desks, I think.

On 1/24/07, Lorne Trudeau <lorne.trudeau at number41media.com> wrote:
> If your team is stuck on the "it's for everyone" bandwagon then don't
> try to classify your users. Stop the process and begin to classify the
> actions. By approaching the design from a goal/action perspective you
> should be able to get the team out of their stubborn rut.
> Lorne

25 Jan 2007 - 11:57am
Josh Seiden
2003

Let's assume that you actually are designing a product for everyone. (You
could argue this point, but it would be a waste of breath.)

There is a reliable way to successfully design for everyone: pick one person
who represents the dominant set of needs of "everyone" and design for that
person. This seems counter-intuitive, but it works.

Classic example: the roll-aboard suitcase was designed for a flight
attendant: but that person represents the needs of "everyone" who travels by
plane.

See also the case study of the Sony in-flight entertainment system in
Cooper's "Inmates..." for a description of why/how.

JS

On 1/24/07, Sunandini Basu <sunandinibasu at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Hi
> How do you counter the argument that the product you're designing is for
> everyone?
> How do I convince product teams to think through who their target users
> are?
> best,
> Soo
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> --
> "The details are not the details. They make the design' - Charles Eames
>
> ****************************************************************************
> Sunandini Basu
> Interaction Designer
>
> ****************************************************************************
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

25 Jan 2007 - 12:12pm
Mark Schraad
2006

And yet not every flier has one or uses one. It is not an issue of economics... so why, if this addresses the need of "everyone" who flies by plane, is it not universal?

>Classic example: the roll-aboard suitcase was designed for a flight
>attendant: but that person represents the needs of "everyone" who travels by
>plane.

25 Jan 2007 - 1:17pm
Nasir Barday
2006

This is what I was trying to get at earlier. The product in reality is
not going to be for everyone. But if the team is caught up in thinking
"everyone! everyone and their mothers!" then the way to counteract it
is with the approach Josh mentioned.

The resulting design will be focused (i.e. not a "Homermobile") and
the product team gets the satisfaction of feeling like they "designed
for everyone." I think the main challenge for Sunandini will be
fighting off the "what if people need to <insert edge-case scenario
here>?" features. I've found the best way to meet people half-way on
these (if you must) is to hide those behaviors with a progressive
disclosure technique and to keep the main interaction focused on that
one person.

- Nasir

26 Jan 2007 - 2:19pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

Don't ask. Please don't ask. Please.

On Jan 25, 2007, at 6:20 AM, Sunandini Basu wrote:

> Why do you say that?
>
>
> On 1/25/07, Esteban Barahona <esteban.barahona at gmail.com> wrote:
>>
>> I think we IxDers should answer this questions for ourselves first...

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