If you have a new idea—a design, an interface, an app, a product—and you start shopping that whatever it is around, pay close attention to people's reactions. The reason why we sometimes find user testing a necessary and valuable process is because often...

If you have a new idea—a design, an interface, an app, a product—and you start shopping that whatever it is around, pay close attention to people's reactions. The reason why we sometimes find user testing a necessary and valuable process is because often we have become too familiar with that on which we are working; we can no longer see it from a first-time user's perspective. You've probably experienced something similar when you just kind of let your hair style go a little too long without a cut or color or you put on 10 lbs before you realize it; you don't see the changes happening because they occur ever so slightly, day by day, until you hopefully realize it and do something about it.

We don't want to get to the end of a design or production job and realize we were completely off track.

We constantly have people unfamiliar with a project taking a look. We make sure to ask people who aren't invested in liking it, those who won't worry about offending if they say, "Ummm—I don't get it."

No one likes opening up a process for that potential "I don't get it" reaction, but it's absolutely necessary.

An inevitable part of this process goes something like this:

Creative Director or Project Manager: Hey, you, person who has never seen this before, if you were looking to go to college here what would be the first thing you would want to click on?

Person: This is a college Website?

Creative Director or Project Manager: Houston, we have a problem.

Designer: WTF? WTF? Why are you even asking "person"? They don't know sh*t about design.

Creative Director or Project Manager: Well, person kind of has a point, if you think about it; it kind of does look like a shopping site.

Designer: It only looks like a shopping site to blind idiots.

Creative Director or Project Manager: Let's ask person #2.

Person #2: I love the shots of the product. Is this a shopping site?

Designer: I hate you.

Creative Director or Project Manager: Okay! It's only 11 a.m., but we are scheduling a happy hour for lunch. Let's go!

Three hours later, the designer has calmed down and repaired his or her bruised ego and, realizing this is a battle not to be won by declaring others blind, is now seeing the missteps and figuring out how to change course.

The lesson here? Don't ignore anyone's confusion at that with which you are presenting them. You can avoid the situation altogether by learning to trust your own inner voice. It might be hinting at you earlier in the process. 'Cause chances are, if you're confused, everyone else is, too.

Disclaimer: If the photo is of your mother or father, or grandmother or grandfather, or any other relative or friend, no offense intended. I came across it on the interwebs here, and quite simply, I was confused.

Share on Twitter or Facebook Published July 30th 2010