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121

Users are bad at asking for what they need and great at asking for what they want. Anecdotal evidence from my own recent experience: We have a department that asked for a button that would generate a PDF report about some data. A few months later they asked for the report in the form of a spreadsheet. A few months after that they asked for additional ...


109

Here are two examples, one online and one offline 1. Train arrivals Subway passengers frustrated with waiting for trains routinely ask for more trains on the track. For metropolitan transit agencies globally, this is obviously a very expensive request. Analysis of passenger needs reveals that the uncertainty around the wait is as important as the ...


64

If you've seen The Simpsons episode "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou," you should remember what happened when Homer's half-brother gave him free reign over designing a car "for the average schmuck." The end result was expensive and looked ridiculous and didn't truly meet the user's needs, even though it had all the features he wanted. If the company truly ...


37

Let's start with an old one from the Ford's founder: (Although there isn't actually any evidence Ford ever said it. Thanks to user Evil Closet Monkey for the disclaimer.) The UX Designer View Why is it important to know why they want what they think they want?: Simply because as a UX designer you should be the one designing the best solution and in ...


31

There are two issues that make focusing on user requests at face value problematic. The first is known as The Einstellung Effect This is a negative effect of pattern-following on finding optimal solutions: Einstellung is the development of a mechanized state of mind. Often called a problem solving set, Einstellung refers to a person's ...


16

My anecdote: We were bulding a new version of a computerized machine. One requirement was to boot it in 30 seconds. We failed it by orders of magnitude. It created a big outcry. We asked why and heard that they had lost a lot of production time with the last version, because it crashed so often and needed to be rebooted quite frequently. Our new version was ...


10

As engineers we were given the example of the newly-opened office tower block. It was fitted with 3 lifts. As the tenants filled the building complaints arrived that the office workers were having to wait too long for the lift. Cue expensive consultants to revise the lifts' queuing algorithm. No reduction in complaints. Cue assessment of building an ...


8

I am a software designer and run into this problem all the time. The problem with many non technical people is they don't get abstraction. They truly cannot step back and articulate the functional requirement. Their perception is I have a problem I need this button. When they are asked to describe the problem they either can't or won't. The people least ...


6

My anecdote: Maybe 25 years ago, I was doing contract work for a municipal Utilities Billing group. The existing package was good, but primary inquiry into customer accounts required too many screens to get many customer questions answered quickly. Since I did almost all troubleshooting over a couple years and I regularly needed some kind of overview into ...


6

User requests are usually formed based on what the user perceives to be a solution to their problem. The thing is, their solution may not be the best solution, and in fact, it may not even solve their problem at all. Many questions on StackExchange are asking how to fix a partial solution, rather than asking for a better solution to the actual problem they ...


4

I think this classic software engineering image is worth adding in. It's not just a problem with the customer - you get confusion everywhere. Plus it's not even really a UX job to figure it out. My experience has been that it is where decent project managers are worth huge amounts from the time saved by clearing out the confusion and being able to talk ...


2

Simply because that's your job to create a solution that answers user needs, and it's expected you know better than they do, otherwise they would get your job. I guess I should begin by saying that listening to their requests can be a good thing. Because users aren't complete idiots, they're well aware of their problems and needs seeing how they've been ...


2

Many answers here describe the problems with user/customer requests so I think i shouldn't repeat why you should do finding out what users realy need. I just want to give a hint how to do it: What users realy need is called requirements. And its the job of every engineer (or - should be) to find out what these requirements are, because users can't ...


1

To be brief as possible: Not all users know exactly what they need because most of their requests are made for the sake of convenience.


1

Why is important to focus on user needs as opposed to requests? Here's an example of what we faced. The Product Team came to the Development Team and asked for a survey form to be built in order to collect data. The Development Team specifically asked if the Product Team planned on making any future surveys. They said no. The Development Team decided to ...



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