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If God Had a Whiteboard and A User Centered Design Team  

:: Saturday, September 17, 2005 ::

What sort of world would have been scribbled with their blue markers? Can you just imagine what the information architecture of the whole Universe would be like? How many categories? How many levels and sub-levels? What items do you suppose they would have wanted to promote? How would they come up with good labels? I wonder if "make it user friendly" was on the agenda at all?

I had this rather unusual analogy appear in my head today. I think its the result of living. Maybe its the lasting impression of standing this summer at some lookout on Virginia's Skyline Drive high in the mountains, peering downwards, and wondering where everybody on the planet got to. It didn't even matter to me, then, because everywhere I could see, there was such beauty and I felt so good.

It's been two months since that experience and I haven't been able to forget it. I want to go back and feel that again.

May I Present - Experience Design

When our world was created, user testing was done much as it is today. After launch.

I'm unsure what the business requirements were for the world, but I know stakeholders still argue to this day about priorities. What is our main goal? Who is the target audience? If someone were to visit our world, would they learn anything from it? Would they want to make a purchase?

Could they possibly create an environment that everyone could use with ease?

You may think I'm taking a helluva leap comparing the Big Bang team meeting to user centered web or software design. Maybe so. But, when was the last time you, as a web site owner or person who works on one, gave some thought to all the possibilities that didn't make the whiteboard or wireframe phase? Did you ever stop to think that your end users would evolve? That their needs would change? That they feel?

You can see evidence that some entities get this idea that creation doesn't stop just because the first incarnation of something hits the streets. Microsoft gets it. Apple does. Automakers. Religion. Mother Nature. Even politics. Search engines too.

Carry this on to something like usability. You're told to not make any changes to the user interface because everyone will suddenly get lost. Well duh. The same thing happens to me whenever I drive in a city and that never stopped them from tearing down buildings and detouring roads. People have this amazing ability to learn and they'll do it even after you grab ahold of your web site, pop it with a baggie and design a new one.

In web site and software design, there is the fear of not meeting the needs of end users. There is a fear of not truly understanding who they even are. I'm suggesting we consider something different.

Your end users will come to your site, over and over, if you keep their needs and interests in mind. Better yet, if you make them feel better after their visit, then you'll begin to understand what The Creator had in mind, back in the very Beginning of It All.

Back when those mountains were drawn on the WhiteBoard.

:: posted by Kim Krause Berg on 9/17/2005 08:55:00 PM

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