Assuming the role of another user

How assumptions made by users can lead you astray

I want to share how you can get better insight from your user interviews if you stop the participant from talking about anyone but themselves.

Today I was in yet another interview when a user started talking about how another stakeholder in the ecosystem of the product would behave. They started talking about how their colleague would think. Only problem was I had already spoken to their colleague and their answers were very very different.

They say YOU are not the user. So you go away and you interview the user. But all too often I see in interviews users assuming the role of other users and speaking about what they do, or think, expect etc.

When they go down this route, bring them back to what THEY do, think or expect. Because as I’ve mentioned before assumptions are the mother of all fuck ups.
It doesn’t matter who is doing the assuming, its usually bad. So as a rule of thumb if your users start talking about the other stakeholders get them back to talking about them. Most people love to talk about themselves so it isn’t usually too much of a problem.

TYIT Ltd provides a full stack UX consultancy that designs accessible digital services. We've helped complex organisations like BEIS and DfE achieve digital transformation by running Lean and Agile discovery processes.

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