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Always put yourself in the position of your users

  • Christian Weibel

In this article, I refer to Sarah Semark’s presentation at the Frontend Conference on 1 September 2017 under the theme: «Empathy for Introverts».

This keynote title really appealed to me – not so much because I consider myself to be a very introverted person but rather because I find it very important to be an emphatic person in my job as designer.

When I was writing my diploma thesis over a year ago, I had some difficulties in putting myself in the position of my target group (65+). I had to spend a lot of time with seniors, watching how they use equipment, what basic problems in everyday life they encounter and how they communicate to find out what moves and occupies my target audience.

Each person is different – they may look similar at the first glance and yet be completely different. I do not like pigeonholing people and actually I do not like the phrase «target group». I create products for people and not for some pre-defined groups.

The definitions often leave things out – perhaps the information that is relevant to me as a designer is nowhere to be found? Maybe my customer doesn’t know his customers as well as he should?

In order to gain a deeper insight into the users, their behavior and their needs, we should take their perspective and know their environment. The effect on us will be even stronger only when we actually experience what it means to be in their shoes.

«Finding problems to find solutions that cover a wide range of personas.»

Empathy can be learned and trained – for example, through meditation, more mindfulness and curiosity in everyday life, openness to people around me, storytelling or reading books.

Accessibility is not an obstacle; it is rather an added value that benefits all users. Sarah made a book recommendation that I also support: «Build Better Products» by Laura Klein – a must-read for designers.

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