One of the first rules in the UX field is to not ask users what they want nor what they prefer, but is there a reason to not ask which tools they have and if they use them?

I have to redesign a software, one of the main problem is that it does not interact well with some other tools/programs that some users currently use: that is something I know from my contextual inquiries. I would like to know if this is common among most of my users, but I cannot afford more contextual inquiries. This is why I am considering a survey with specific questions on which programs are installed and if the users know them well enough. I will base the new design based on these information.

  • 1
    Can you expand on your question a bit? Why do you want to ask them and what are you going to do with their response? Do you mean software tools - i.e. programs, or some other tools?
    – Paul S
    Feb 4, 2016 at 10:50

2 Answers 2


I believe there are no rules or guidelines to tell you what you should and should not ask. You are free to ask the users anything but its your job to decipher what they really want. If you are afraid of "User don't know what they want sydrome", you could use a bit of qualitative research to help you interpret their answers.

By all means ask them more direct questions if it helps you to design a better system.

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    Yes, that is what I am afraid of... I guess some clever direct questions and usage of Likert scale will help me get reliable enough data.
    – asiegf
    Feb 5, 2016 at 8:53

I think it is a legit question. It is a part of understanding who are your users.

Between someone who use Youtube Editor and the one who use Adobe Premiere, there is a lot to learn

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