You have no idea how little your users really know. And that shows just how little you know.
You work in technology for a living. You’ve been using a computer since you were born. You are obsessed with learning new things. You are a nerd and you hang out with other nerds. You constantly think about the future. You love math. You spend the vast majority of your day staring at screens of varying sizes.
In other words, you are not normal.
You are utterly convinced that the things you know are obvious, but meanwhile you think you’re brilliant. That doesn’t make everyone else around you stupid; it just means that they know different things than you do. Trust me, you don’t know everything.
“The man who knows something knows that he knows nothing at all.” — Erykah Badu
“And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.” — 1 Corinthians 8:2 (King James Bible translation)
If you do anything at all in the field of technology — if you are a designer, or a developer, or a writer, or a product manager, or a marketer, or a business strategist, or a venture capitalist, or a lawyer, or an entrepreneur — you are helping to create products and services that people use. If you don’t give a shit about those people, please do the world a favor and go away.
You think your target market is “everybody,” yet you have no idea just how little “everybody” knows. You tell yourself that your product or service is for the “average person,” but you really mean that it’s for yourself. You cannot possibly imagine how little domain knowledge about technology the average person on the street possesses. You need to watch this video that I recently saw on Matt J. McDonald’s blog:
Do you still think you want “everyone” to use your product or service? Are you using language and concepts that they’ll even understand?
What are you doing to find out what your users know and what they don’t?
Death to assumptions. You don’t know anything until you ask. Start today.
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