They are not us.

“You are not the user” has been a rallying cry of the user experience design profession for some time. That cry is still needed in so many areas, as decisions are taken from false consensus about what people want and what they think. There is a strong tendency for us to believe that people are like us (the science is here for the curious). We are wrong. They are different. Aren’t you.

The evidence of people being different from us is so readily available, it does seem counterintuitive to overlook it. Yet overlook it we do. We assume that the language we use is understood. That our assumptions are shared. That our intentions are clear. We are only here to help, after all.

“Find things out and get things done. That’s what learning is for.”

In the L&D world, we tend to believe that people care about learning as much as we do. I so much want this to be true. It’s not though. There is a strong interest and drive to find things out and get things done. Learning comes along the way and enables the achievement of those outcomes. The learning itself is secondary at best and often, rightly, invisible.

In user experience terms, we need to accept that getting out of the way is a great benefit. Letting people get on with it is almost always a sound starting point. (Test from there, if needed).

Leaving people where they are is a related benefit. Don’t take them to the learning place. Bring the learning to the finding out and getting done places. But don’t make a song and dance of it. Like great table service, learning should be unnoticeable.

And, most importantly of all, don’t fret about completing the learning. When has that ever helped find something out or get it done?

Picture of a space invader on a yellow brick wall.
Photo by Francesco Ungaro on

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