Improving Interfaces: Keep Your Mouth Shut and Start Listening
Einstein once said: “If A equals success, then the formula is A equals X plus Y and Z, with X being work, Y play, and Z keeping your mouth shut.” I found the formula works as well when you’re designing an interface, especially the ‘keeping your mouth shut’ part. I’m gonna add ‘..and start listening.’
Keep your mouth shut and start listening.
Someone had spent time in designing interfaces for an app. It’s time to get some feedback from people. When most of the people found the interfaces were hard to use, that someone said: ‘Stupid users!’ He’s wondering why the users couldn’t figure out how to interact with the interfaces. It’s so easy-to-use. Of course it’s easy-to-use, for that person who designed the interfaces.
At that point, he had two options. One, was to tell the management that they had stupid users for the test, and convinced that they have ‘smart users’ out there who would find the app easy-to-use. This option will be chosen by lazy people, people who always don’t have enough time to create good interfaces.
The second option, was to keep the mouth shut, and listen to the people who use the app. Just listen. This is the hardest choice, because when someone said something bad about our design, we have to admit that we might be wrong, that we’re not perfect. Then we have to spend some time to take the feedback, go back to the design board, and improve the interfaces.
Many people will just choose option #1, and cross their fingers, hoping that there’ll a miracle for the app to survive.
There’s no ‘not enough time’ to design good interfaces. You’ll always have time. The question now is: “Can you keep your mouth shut and start listening?”