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Insights from user research

I’ve been doing a lot of user research lately. I love user research and cannot do a design project without first spending lots of time with users.

One of the best things about user research is that it reminds me of all the things I have forgotten, particularly about being a new Internet user. It is hard to remember what it was like to be new when you have been on the ‘net for 8 years.

Two things I had forgotten:

1. People don’t like using the Internet
Not everyone is like me – spending time at work researching on the web, then time at home reading email, following links, writing blogs, shunning television.

For people who are not interested in the Internet, but have to use it for work, it is a big, scary thing. They don’t know what to click on, don’t know what will happen if they do click, don’t know what they are looking at, and don’t know what to do about it.

2. People don’t know when one site ends and another begins.
Actually, sometimes they don’t even know what ‘site’ they start in. They click something, go somewhere, click something else until they find something that vaguely looks right. If they do know where they started, everything after that is the fault of the first site.

Of course, not all of the users I spoke with were like this, but enough to make an impact on me. It goes without saying that they aren’t silly people. The Internet is not a major part of their job, nor is computing a major part of their job.

The Internet is just a tool that is meant to help them do their jobs better. And in many cases, it doesn’t even come close.

3 Responses to “Insights from user research”

  1. andrew hedges Says:

    Good insights, Donna. It’s scary to think that users might blame me for irritation caused them by a site linked-to by a site I link to!

    I’m like you, a long-time ‘Net user and it gets harder each day to relate to people who are new to it. Then, I talk with my mother and am instantly reminded of the online experience of someone seeing it for the first time!

  2. Donna Maurer Says:

    Aren’t mothers great for this. I told my mother that I thought of her when designing. At first she was offended, but she was OK when I told her why I use her as an example.

  3. McGee's Musings Says:

    Remembering the range of user needs and interests

    DonnaM: Insights from user research .