Designers are not users (Jakob Nielsen)

Designers are not users (Jakob Nielsen)


I like to say that “designers are not users.” Except, of course, if you’re designing a product *for* designers, but that’s a rare exception. Usually we’re designing either for the general public or for some specialized profession or specialized audience that’s not designers. In that case there’s really usually a very big difference between anybody who is a member of the design team and the target audience. They have different levels of technical skill, different understanding/knowledge of computers, of the web in general. For sure different knowledge about your company, your product, what type of things your product does, and particularly different understanding, of course, of your interface design. And maybe even the most important, there’s a great distinction or difference in the level of motivation: of how much people even care about what your company does, about what your product does, compared to how enormously excited you are about what you do. So all these differences mean that whatever people in a design team, they think is good or should be done, or they think ought to be easy, may not all be easy for the target audience. So we cannot go by what we think if we are on the design team: We have to go and look at the users. But, yes designers are not users, but just as much, users are not designers. Because we can’t just ask people, “oh, what do you want?” Because people don’t know what they need. They are not designers, they don’t have that ability to envision what *could* be; what technology might allow us to build. Or they don’t understand what would be a great user interface design to solve this problem, or what will be a crummy, convoluted user interface design to solve the problem. They just don’t know all the guidelines and rules and principles that we’ve discovered through all these many years of user experience research. So users are not designers. The two are just really different. Designers should design, but while watching users use the design to see whether it’s actually easy, whether it actually does what people need. Keep the two separate.


6 thoughts on “Designers are not users (Jakob Nielsen)

  1. Designers are users, too. My response to this –> https://medium.com/user-defenders/designers-are-users-too-31eec6210417#.km1tz7f1l

  2. I'm a graphic designer and i understand a very important thing to considerate a good design, that is always think in the users. So, we can't think separatelly.

  3. An intelligent designer decouples the user from any complexity of an application. Smart designers know how to present to the user in the simplest terms. Even intelligent users don't want unnecessary complexity and stress in our daily lives.

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