If you want to understand how a lion hunts, don’t go to the zoo. Go to the jungle.
Conventional wisdom is an oxymoron.
One thing you will hear often in business is “do one thing and do it well.” It’s true. You may also hear something about picking a target market. That is definitely true as well. But UX actually works the opposite way.
Doing UX for everyone is easy. Selling to everyone is difficult.
If you’re a marketer you might be experiencing a serious mind fuck after reading the introduction above, because the design part goes against everything you know.
And maybe if you’re a designer too.
How can it be easier to design for everyone than designing for a smaller, well-defined, targeted group of people?!
Well, there is a catch: you have to know about psychology first.
You see, all humans have the same psychology, more or less. we are all born with the same brain (more or less), built from the same blueprint (more or less) and it works in essentially the same way.
That means that as long as your users are human, the big problems in UX are going to be the same for everything you ever make.
Nobody can choose from a menu of 50 options. Nobody will complete a 30-page form written in technical language unless they are highly motivated.
Nobody will date a person with no head.
Big problems are universal in psychology and therefore universal in UX.
Mo’ design, mo’ problems
As you design & test good solutions to these big problems, your problems will become smaller, and more specific, and there will be more of them.
Wait… the more problems you solve, the more problems you have?
Remember the article from last week about solving UX like a crossword puzzle? At the beginning of a crossword puzzle, how many “holes” do you have to fill?
One: the whole thing.
As you add answers, you break up the puzzle into areas of unanswered questions, which become smaller holes, which become individual, specific questions to solve.
More, but smaller.
Just like UX.
In UX, the more specific your problems or your target users are, the more their individual, unpredictable situations matter.
What is their country’s culture or the user’s personality? Are they experienced? Tech-savvy? Do they have an unhealthy obsession with tuxedos for dolphins? What about porpoises? Don’t they deserve nice top hats too?
Very specific. Very tricky to solve.
UX designers with less experience tend to get caught in this trap, and feel overwhelmed by all the different feedback and suggestions and needs of thousands or millions of individual users.
UX designers are humans too, and we can’t work with 50 options either.
Here’s where the mindfuck happens.
Selling something specific to everyone is very difficult. I can’t think of any single product that every human needs, other than my book.
Think about it… every business that sells something everyone needs, sells many types of it.
A supermarket sells food, which everyone needs. Good supermarkets need to sell hundreds or thousands of different products, because everybody likes different stuff.
As a UX designer (yes, you can do UX for retail environments) you’re designing a smooth way to buy anything from the supermarket, not each thing they sell.
A bar has every type of alcohol somebody might order and can make thousands of drinks. (Trust me, I made this award-winning cocktail app for Absolut in 2010).
But as a UX designer, you’re designing the experience of buying any drink, not each specific drink.
Amazon has millions of books. But as a UX designer you are designing the experience of buying any book.
You get the idea.
Not every, specific idea, but the general… yeah, yeah, ok. Sorry, I got caught in a loop there.
It is only after you design a good solution for the general problem that you need to start asking users whether their dolphin wants a jacket with tails or not.
If you try to solve each specific problem, one at a time, your design will be a mess, and you ain’t gonna sell shit to nobody.
Huge News! I am proud to announce that O’Reilly Media and I will be turning my super-popular UX Crash Course posts into a real book, to be published in 2015.
This is very exciting!
Many of you have tweeted to me, asking if the UX Crash Course lessons were available as a book or an ebook, and each time I had to disappoint by saying, “no.”
In January of this year (2014) I declared that my New Year’s Resolution was to get more people started in UX. And very soon I will be able to say:
After announcing that over 400,000 people had come to read the daily lessons, I was connected to the fine people at O’Reilly. They were excited too! After a bit of discussion, we have just signed a deal to turn the lessons into a real book and an ebook, which is scheduled for release in 2015.
Now, just in case you’re panicking, let me remove any concerns you might have:
The current lessons/posts will stay online, for free, forever. That was very important to me while we discussed the deal. O’Reilly felt the same way and completely supported that decision.
The book will also have the same short, easy, funny style as the original lessons, because let’s be honest: I’m hilarious.
And who wants to destroy that?!
So keep sharing and reading those links. I appreciate it every time.
But wait, there’s more!
Not only will the existing lessons be included, but the book will have 100 lessons in total! Crazy! And, if the English version goes well, it is very possible that it will be translated into other languages!
I have had a lot of feedback and questions since posting the original lessons, and the extra 38 lessons will be based on all those things you wanted to know.
Working with O’Reilly will also allow me to include more visual examples and illustrations for each lesson, to make them even more clear and engaging.
There are still a lot of decisions to make and writing to do, and it isn’t too late for requests, so find me on Twitter!
Start testing and stop arguing.