Summary: Designers, developers, and even UX researchers fall prey to the false-consensus effect, projecting their behaviors and reactions onto users.
on 2017-10-22 October 22, 2017
As a graduate student, I used to write quite a few programs. Besides the occasional homework, I would also write little scripts in Unix to speed up my work, as well as Lisp code intended to run the cognitive models I was devising at the time.
I was the only user of these pieces of code: their only purpose was to help me do my research. As such, I could afford to write them as (un)intelligibly as I wanted, have weird parameter names that made sense only to me, and dispense of pretty much all user interface except for the command line.
While many people who earn a living from developing software will write tons of programs to make their own life easier, much, if not most, of their output will in fact be intended for other people — people who are not working in a cubicle nearby, or not even in the same building. These “users” are usually very different than those who write the code, even in the rare case where they are developers: they have different backgrounds, different experiences with user interfaces, different mindsets, different mental models, and different goals. They are not us.