Several years ago I found myself stranded on the side of the Interstate with a broken down car*. After spending the better part of two hours waiting impatiently, AAA finally arrived. Since my car had to be towed approximately 40 miles back to my house, I was in for a long ride with my new friend, the tow truck driver. I got to hear all about how this gentleman not only drove the truck but also owned the tow truck company. When I asked about the physical location of his office he proudly told me that he managed his entire business from his iPhone. He had no brick and mortar location, no desktop PC and no fax machine.
Before that night, I would have assumed that local tow truck drivers were likely at the bottom on the technology scale. Additionally, when I thought about technologically savvy small business owners, a tow truck driver didn’t exactly come to mind.
Often, we find ourselves making assumptions and thinking in absolutes. We tend to say things such as, “Everyone uses the site this way”, or, “No one is going to access this from their smart phone” The problem with this line of thinking is that your users don’t fit into absolutes.
“All Clemson fans are terrible”
Thinking in absolutes is generally derived from anecdotal evidence that is often wrong. You might have one experience and then base your entire way of thinking on that one interaction. I’ll admit that I’ve fallen victim to this line of thinking, “All Clemson fans are terrible”.
Between demographics, audience segments, device usage, browser variability and language settings, almost every online interaction is completely different and unique. The challenge we have as UX professionals is to make sure that these factors are considered and addressed during development. The good news is that there are tools and data that can help you achieve greater insight into your users. One of these tools is the persona creator, which just launched and is available here.
* If your car runs out of oil it will stop working.