Listening to users considered harmful?. A really great post
with lessons from another industry, but ones that can be applied to
This doesn't mean that you don't listen to
users--because the truth is embedded in what they say ... but
you have to look for the deeper meaning behind what they ask
I've droned on about this topic for many years to anyone who
would listen. Since "becoming" a software developer in 2004 I have
been given a lot of contradicting advice on how to treat
customers/users regarding internal systems, software and general
The general consensus is the that the client is always right, they
are experts in their field and we should make software that they
ask for and move on.
Experience tells me otherwise. Clients may request specific
features be added to a piece of software, because they are trying
to solve a specific problem. This problem, however, may have many
solutions with differing results. Diving deeper will help tease a
better solution out.
Lee Munroe has a nice post about diving deeper into the problem
by asking "why". Ask your client
"why" 5 times.
[...] make sure you understand the root of the
problem and explore all possible solutions before
time and effort is wasted.
The customer (read: user) doesn't always know what they want and
the developers first instinct should be to understand the
underlying problem, rather than getting started on the
I have always found spending time with the users as they use the
system can be very useful for seeing how they use a
system, which can be vastly different from how they should
be using the system. By learning users habits and techniques for
accomplishing tasks, we can really understand how to develop simple
and intuitive tools to help them solve real problems.
Always ask why. It can't hurt.