Stop doing ego-centered design and do this instead

Summary: If your best intentions are not on meeting business and user goals, you should take a hard look in the mirror and re-callibrate. Ego-centered design means you think you are the user, and that means your design will be lacking in empathy. Instead practice User-Centered Design. 

What is ego-centered design?

It’s the hardest thing for a designer, developer or manager to admit. We often make a call without evidence (beyond a hunch). But even the best UX Designers do not trust their hunches until they have listenend and observed their users. Note: It’s a learnable skill.

Ego-centered design means design decisions are lacking user validation. Many a dozen design revisions were done (you know who you are) without any idea of the audience, their tasks or the business objectives driving the priority. Commonly understood definitions of ego-centered design include:

  • Designing for your resume.
  • Designing because you think it’s a cool idea.
  • Designing because you think it’s the right thing to do.
  • Designing because you are the most senior (eg highest paid opinion on your team).
  • Having blind faith in a UI behavioral assumption (eg Recall that clicking a Logo for ‘Home’ took over a decade for users to get comfortable with it…many still have no idea…).

The solution to ego-centered design, of course, is User-Centered Design (UCD)! UCD brings evidence, data and necessary validation to decisions. In short, callibrating your judgement about what feature a user needs or how they will discover it (two common UX Design tasks) requires evidence beyond your mind alone.  Discarding empathy does not have to be a product strategy. You can be a better design decision-maker!

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