Wednesday, December 14, 2016

My friends tell me I always point out problems but never offer a solution, but they never tell me what to do about it. (Dan Gilbert)

I see myself as a professional scab picker. If there is a problem with your design, I’m the one who’s going to pull that scab off and make it bleed. I can do that in an eval or – better yet – let your users do that for me in a test.

So, does that make me a popular person? Well, not exactly.

Are there some things I can do to make that hurt just a little bit less? Why, yes, there are.

One thing I always try to do is to provide good results as well as bad. I’ve already written a couple of posts that address that issue (Even developers have feelings …, Don’t fear mistakes …, A successful test is one that …). 

Another, though, is to offer some solutions. If I’ve spent hours upon hours preparing for this particular test, running it, watching the tapes, sifting through all the data, then summarizing it all up in a way that makes sense to anyone, chances are some ideas are already going to occur to me. And seeing as I’ve been doing this testing thing since practically the dawn of time, I may have already run across this problem and seen a decent solution to it already.  So, why the heck not share any possible solutions I may have come up with?

Now, at the same time, I am not a designer. I may also not be totally privy to what’s already been considered and thrown out, what might not work from a business standpoint, what our competitors happen to be doing, some elegant solution that someone on the team saw in a totally different context ... In other words, I really don’t expect my solution to be adopted without any further debate. 

That said, I have, over the years, been able to cut to the chase in a few rare situations and basically offer up something that the team can adopt pretty much ready-to-wear. Saves a lot of trouble. Definitely cuts down on wheel reinvention.

Overall, though, all I really want to do is just get the ball rolling. And that, in turn, is really just totally subsidiary to my real goal here – identifying what is an actual problem, why it’s a problem, and how seriously a problem is actually might be. 

I just can't tell if it's this guy ...

... or this guy