DonnaM » Blog Archive » How wrong could I be?

How wrong could I be?

Last May, a meme hit – the musical baton. And I was hit by the meme, and I said “I’m not a big music listener, so don’t expect anything particularly interesting

I think this was one of the most wrong predictions I could ever make. In the past 3 months, I am more often seen with earbuds in than out, can hardly work without music in the background, and was just caught staring blankly at the computer for 6 minutes while listening to Jeff Buckley’s live version of Hallelujah on pandora.

At the time I said that, I truly believed it. I really didn’t listen to much. I had a small pile of CDs collected over the last 15 years and didn’t do much with them.

What changed? I’m sure this has happened to many people, but my iPod changed my behaviour. Totally and in ways that I just would not have anticipated. I re-found music. I found a way to listen that didn’t mean I had to fuss when I left a room, and didn’t have to think before work what I might be interested in during the day. I also found cheaper music and sites with good ability to find new stuff (and an amazing podcast), which makes experimenting much less risky.

I’m a new person!

But to tie back with what I normally write about here, this is a very important issue for user research. It is a perfect illustration of the fact that humans do not know what they do and absolutely cannot predict future behaviours. User research is a good thing, but sometimes a smart leap in the dark may be better.

Ahhhhh…I’m going to burn in usability hell for that. But I’ll at least go down with great music in my ears.

4 Responses to “How wrong could I be?”

  1. Jan Korbel Says:

    Nice post. I do much listening during work, I do prefer audio books – all the Harry Potter, the old Foundation saga, Tolkien …
    Audio book tip: The World Is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman. I cannot say how much I like this book. It is really connecting the dots.

  2. Ben Kraal Says:

    You said, “User research is a good thing, but sometimes a smart leap in the dark may be better.”

    I just re-read Cooper’s “Inmates” and he says much the same thing. There’s even a cute diagram. He also makes the point that there’s a difference between listening to users (good) and following them (bad). He says that if you listen to users, you’ll learn about what their goals are and what the need but if you follow them, you’ll just end up with the same old.

  3. Leisa Reichelt Says:

    hey Donna,

    I’ve had a similar experience since I’ve been using Flickr. I did a little photography at school and since then I’ve taken the odd photo here and there (when I actually remembered to take my camera along), but since I’ve been using Flickr, I take my camera with me everywhere I go and feel as though I see the world with different eyes, always looking for a shot to take to share with my Flickr community.

    I still take pretty rubbish photos, but I’m taking them moreregularly – who knows, I may improve, or take a course! – and it’s really had quite a profound impact on the way I see my world now.

    Again – this is user behaviour that I never would have predicted and if you’d have surveyed me and asked if I’d envisage myself posting to Flickr every other day I would definitely have said no.

    Eh, Users. Can’t trust ‘em, can’t ignore them.
    I’m with you on the smart leap in the dark.

  4. Donna Maurer Says:

    Jan – thanks for the tip.

    Ben – I have lost my copy of inmates, but doesn’t surprise me that Cooper says that – fits with his approach.

    Leisa – yay to you! that’s excellent

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