“Who would this hurt?”: Design for Real Life According to Sara Wachter-Boettcher

Via A List Apart (Thanks Eric and Kirsten for sharing!)

Our users don’t live the tidy little lives we’ve concocted for our personas, with their limited set of problems. Life is messy and unpredictable; some days, terrible. When planning a project, it’s important not to let our excitement lull us into blithely ignoring life’s harsher realities.

I love Sara Wachter-Boettcher's arguments for a more sensitive, inclusive design process. It is simple and elegant and has no cost to the desginer except for the time it takes to think about it:

"What Eric and I are really advocating for, then, is for design teams to build a deep breath into their process—to say, every time they make a decision, “who might be harmed by this? In which circumstances does this feature break down for a user? How can we strengthen our work to avoid that?”"

She also effectively shuts down the idea that being more compassionate and empathetic when designing a product and trying your best to think about all the ways people might be approaching your product kills creativity, but in fact does just the the opposite.

"You know, no one complains that designing a car to be safer during an accident limits the engineers’ creativity. So why should we say that about digital products? Of course thinking about users’ varied identities and emotional states creates limiting factors. But that’s what design is: it is a creative solution to a set of problems. We’re redefining which problems are worth solving."

Read the article here, or better yet pick up a copy of the book, Design for Real Life!