Userpalooza? Are you blinded by UX language?

Two solid arguments for how the language and terms so ubiquitous in UX can (but shouldn’t) mask, or blind us to what really matters.

Harry Brignull (@harrybr) ‘s tweet:



…And Genevieve Bell (@feraldata) ‘s comment:
(From this video @23:20)

“I find the language of users to be profoundly alienating.

There’s a convenience in talking about users, it lets you imagine that the only moment that matters is the moment that someone is encountering the thing you have built but the reality is that human beings exist in a myriad of circumstances beyond the point they intersect with your thing and if we’re not paying attention to all of that we miss things.

For me there is an industry shorthand around talking about users and user experience but if it’s not ultimately grounded in an idea about humanity and people, you make stuff that doesn’t matter, or you make stuff that doesn’t work.”

See the person.

I agree with Harry and Genevieve. These labels can conveniently mask limiting beliefs in business.

Teams need to see past the collective label of user, patients, customers, citizens to SEE THE PERSON. …to view the wider context of their lives and to understand where their product can add value.

In my experience, audiences examined one-by-one, then shared in the same way can help undo a team’s tendency to view people as a collective and afford a catch-all label.

This means letting individual people (and their glorious differences and similarities) shine through when sharing UX research findings, rather than treating them as segments or personas.

When we use tools like personas they pretend to be the ‘aggregate’ of individuals but can also act as a smoke screen, putting distance between the people designing and those using the product.

Connecting with an individual is the atomic level of empathy, but it’s also the most powerful.

That’s why I feel it’s fine to work back from the individual to a collective for a set of common needs, but ‘users’ should be represented in their own context, as the unique individuals they are.

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