UX Rule Number 1

I made a little sticky note for someone I manage, but I don’t have a scanner here.  So I recreated it for you.

It’s amazing to me how often people break this rule. Everyone thinks the other person knows what they are talking about.  People are happy to pass the buck and add features or functionality that they have no idea why someone would use it.  It’s not enough to know HOW it works.  You have to understand what is happening in the user’s head.  Ask “Why would they be interested in doing this?”  Often you might realize that only a tiny fraction of users actually are interested.

If you are a designer or an engineer, you shouldn’t just take the other person’s word for it.  Really understand the motivation of the user and you will build the product better.  I promise.  Take my word for it.


3 responses to “UX Rule Number 1”

  1. Matthew McEachen Avatar


    This applies just as much to engineering as it does to UX — without really grokking the feature’s value, you’re leaving success to serendipity. And serendipity is a harsh mistress. From what I hear, at least.

  2. tony Avatar

    as a rule of thumb perhaps but…the rule itself as stated is rather superficial,
    i.e. you might come up with a breakthrough idea while not necessarily understand yourself why at first…

  3. […] The year was 1991 and Microsoft Excel was being produced. The product manager was Joel Spolsky. Later, he told this amazing story about his experience building it and meeting with Bill Gates. I highly recommend reading it. It is the backbone of my own Rule #1. […]

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