Who are you really trying to delight?

Any UXer knows that part of the job in user experience is to delight the end-user.

Step 1. Create a usable interface and flow.
Step 2. Delight the user.

It sounds pretty simple on paper but it’s fraught with pitfalls over the course of a project. The biggest problem I see time and time again is that the project team forgets who they’re supposed to delight. They delight themselves with sparkly gimmicks that add no real value and then pat themselves on the back when they succeed (in delighting themselves). By the time the end-user weighs in, the team is dispersed into new projects and all too often insulated from criticism.

Project Team ≠ End-users

uxkitteh not user
You didn’t really think we’d make it through this article without a little UXkitteh, did you?

We, the project team, are not the end-users. The project team’s needs and wants are not a substitute for the the end-user’s needs and wants. I can’t stress that enough.

If your team hasn’t (or won’t):

  • interviewed a single user
  • done any user research
  • performed any usability tests

you have no idea who your end-user is, much less what they need or want. You can’t even fulfill step one above much less step two. Two weeks before going live is too late to figure this out. It takes a very committed UCD (user-centered design) environment to avoid overlooking the end-user in an Agile-induced rush.

HIMYM Finale Flop

This past Spring provided a real world example of how a team can misuse “delight”. The creators of How I Met Your Mother decided years ago at the beginning of the series to play a huge “trick” on their audience and thus delight themselves. Overwhelmingly, the audience didn’t appreciate the trick ending and wasn’t in the least delighted. The repercussion for the show’s creators is that their spinoff series didn’t get picked up. Ouch!

One of my art history professors said that “Artists that only paint for themselves are just (self-pleasuring) on canvas.” Isn’t creating applications for yourselves without real focus on the end-user the same thing?

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