Today’s blogpost is about an average user. UX is about user experience. And to create a specific experience a designer needs to know who they is designing for. Who is an average user? What is average? Average intelligence? Age? Education? Average job? Every human being is unique, but we have a lot of similarities where designers and the industry try to find average, the man in the middle (or a woman, or other genders). So as a designer I always need to find the best solution possible for creating a product/service. But not for everyone and of course not directly for an average user. Creating something for an usual average user is a compromise with all best pieces taken out. It work for everyone but nobody can really use it. The key to the problem is not creating for an average user but for your specific target group. Who is your user? What does he/she/they can do with your product? What are their preferences?
An idea of an average user is a misunderstanding that happens cross-industry and is not just a designer/ IT world problem. Because we are all different – engineers, designers and manufacturers try to create something that fits almost every possible case. For example plane seats. They are not made for animals and not for people wearing mascot outfits or caring a surf board. They are made for people with bags. But sometimes they are too small for big people. And for people with long legs the space between the seats is limited. They were developed with the most possible comfort for an average passenger. The engineers definitely had a target group in their mind while creating the seats. The same happens when designers and other creatives create a product. With a definition of target group we can define the features based on the needs of the users and get closer to cover them all by creating an idea of an average user. Usually personas are created. All potentially relevant information is then collected about this particular group, creating a generic profile that theoretically is a reflection of your target group. Something like: female, age 30 to 36, university degree, single, estimated income, hobbies, etc. (Of course potential general information that is necessary for your case). For example your service is ‘selling a mobile phone contract’, then your additional information would be estimated phone usage, phone call times, maybe internet usage. All of these informations can be requested from statistics agencies or survey institutes. After getting the information a designer can create personas that is the cornerstone for the later prototypes, then designs and finally the product itself. Finding your specific average target group user is definitely a good choice to start with. While defining your personas you will repeat the process several times till you finally find the right one.
So before even thinking about designing anything, be sure you know who you are designing it for. Know your target audience. Then you can definitely design a great product that fits the average user – your product’s average user.
- Designing for the “Average User” by Frank Spillers, April 21 2006 more on experiencedynamics.com