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Three Mantras Behind notuser.com

We, as designers, have our lives revolving around the users. But that’s a tricky situation to be in and I want to emphasise on the three wrong places we give to the users at different points in our journey towards maturity. And maybe, I am still wrong, and on acquiring further maturity I might go ahead and add a fourth one as well!

Let’s agree, all of us designers with engineering background have a very technical mindset where we tend to think everything based on technology. When we get started with design, we tend to think design is Photoshop or CSS. The very first step in User Centered Design Process is design considering Users, Business and Technology. So my first message for all my wannabe-designer friends out there is, we must design design it for the users.

Not designing it for the users – Bad Idea!

The next thing is, when we start designing for the users, we start making the mistake of thinking of ourselves as the User. Epic Fail! The moment we make the mistake of thinking that ‘I am the user’ we fall into a vicious circle of thinking that all the users are like us. But the fact is web-usage and mobile-usage behavior is idiosyncratic and all the users are unique. Instead, what we need to do is, make certain assumptions about the users after figuring the right target user group. Then do proper user-research to validate and rectify your assumptions. Then finally design for them.

You are not the User.

And finally, we have to stop thinking of our users as only the ‘users’ and start thinking about them as ‘humans’. We need to know them in true sense. We need figure out their drives, blocks and behaviors. And finally design for their well-being and for their motivation. We need to empathise with our users, and what we design must be like a gift to them!

They are not just users, they are humans.

It takes time to understand the meaning of these 3 mantras and it eventually comes to you with experience. But I hope, this helps. I also hope to discover a fourth point as my journey continues as a designer!

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Udit Khandelwal