One of the progression of user-centric design methodologies is to engage the end-users in design decisions rather than just using them as a feedback mechanism. This is supported by many common tools (e.g. Uservoice or GetSatisfaction) that allow users to provide suggestions/ideas and then for them to be ranked based on popularity (as voted by the users) or other metrics (importance, amount of time or effort required). Once the users provide enough details/requirements/specifications for the product/service to be developed, the company can then build the product with the view that it should basically almost meet the exact user requirements.

However, unlike decisions made based business, technical or even user requirements that are initially based on some degree of research and analysis of users, if the product/service design is based directly on something that the users collectively come up with then how would you have to evaluate user satisfaction to take into account that the users came up with the design? Is this even something that makes sense to do since the users are responsible for the outcome and the company is creating a product/service as a service

  • While I note and consider each user proposal from feedback rounds, I usually refer to UX Myth #21 when my product owners want to run one of their "we ask the users" sessions (cf. uxmyths.com/post/746610684/…). Very interested what comes out of this question! Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 7:28

1 Answer 1


If Apple had relied just on asking the customer what they wanted would they have developed the ipod, ipad or iphone?

Henry Ford's oft-quoted saying: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” (Recently saw an article in Harvard business review stating that there is no evidence that Henry Ford actually said this but still an apt quote.)

I'm a firm believer in the user-centric design process but you have to be mindful that the business' goals need to be considered to build stakeholder acceptance of the ideas and concepts created by the IA process.

Therefore, I start with the business goals, mission, aims. Work with the business to establish what success looks like (metrics and KPI if possible). Then devise one or more customer propositions and test these with real customers (card sorting, storyboards and possibly as prototypes, etc.) It soon becomes clear if a business proposition is viable. Once you have the basic proposition then its all about what the customer wants: what tasks they want to complete, how they want to interact with this type of service, their expectations for the service business, their behaviour / mindset when completing a task, what information and data needs to be presented and how and when.

  • Although this doesn't really answer the question that I have (your description of the approach that you take is very sound). Do you think there are certain types of products/services that is suitable to be user-driven?
    – Michael Lai
    Commented Jan 21, 2015 at 22:06
  • @MichaelLai - Where the user has specialist or first-hand experience and knowledge. I.e. they know more than the UX could ever fully appreciate. I have picked one example where users defined pretty much all the app: We designed an app for our delivery drivers to help them manage / direct them on their delivery runs. However, the business driver still came first - to improve driver efficiency - but after that it was entirely up to the drivers saying what they wanted, and then voting on the most important, workshop on how these could be arranged / presented, and then driver tested in the field.
    – Jezza P
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 15:24
  • continued... The UX acted as an agency providing consultancy, guidance, moderator services and ensured good UX design but it was up to the drivers to define what the app needed to show and do.
    – Jezza P
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 15:40

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