As I update my portfolio, I have thought on the projects that were ground-breaking, pin-pointing the needs of the user and those that have missed the mark. I know that it isn’t for a lack of empathy; I care about my users and clients.
So what sets these projects apart? My execution of design generally stays the same from project type to project type. It has is the foundation: the research.
Empathy is great but it holds no candle to sympathy. True sympathy comes from understanding another person’s difficulties by suffering the same affliction. The projects in which I not only shadowed a few key users to represent a user group, but also tried out their role for a while, helped me sympathize.
I can not truly design a helpful and graceful experience to my users without paying a price myself. Affliction, seeing difficulties myself, experiencing the tedious nature of an interface and where it falls short is the cost that I pay for the ability to sympathize with my users.
If I truly want to help my users and clients I must understand how they are suffering. It them becomes a rescue mission. To think of immediate steps I can take to alleviate the situation. This is how I can strip my dream concept down, to the MVP. Knowing the suffering my user’s experience first hand allows for a quick ideation to get the ball rolling.
I know I have reached my goal when my users stop suffering.
Companies don’t always need a big budget to do large amounts of testing, surveys, etc. They need one or more Ux Designers who are willing to get dirty and experience what their users are experiencing.