UI development: whom to listen to – yourself or the user?

This is Friday reading from novice grocery nymphomaniacs (and nymphomaniacs, if I may say so). We are unbridledly involved in the process and are constantly not satisfied with the result. Our “confession” is dedicated to creating a user interface for the calendar of events where we are faced with a dilemma: choose an option that we like or that was created based on user surveys?

Under the cut, we will get to know the main characters, introduce the storyline, recreate the atmosphere of design (with the effect of immersing in what is happening when the reader sees all the characters and presents their views and intonations). And also let us catharsis.

And, of course, we will share our experience and conclusions.

What is the problem

The question that constantly pops up with us is what option to take into work: the one that we like, or the one that was created based on user polls? If the second, then how to answer for the result? And if ours, then why did users ask?



  • Dima – leads the development. Top-level grocery nympho.
  • Katya – is responsible for the product around which the action takes place. Novice product and grocery nympho.
  • Olya is a product mentor. Moderate grocery nympho.
  • Designer (aka “He”) – designed. Spoiler: no longer design (maybe design, but not ours). The degree of “nymphomania” is minimal.
  • “We” – Dima, Katya and Olya together.
  • “They” – a wide range of actors who are not directly involved in this story, but are invisibly present in it (future users, users who participated in the polls, stakeholders, etc.).


We are a digital services division for Leader ID. Our key principle is to learn from the best or do better than anyone. This is what we look at (and not look at) when we assemble the command:

  • we do not look at the availability of education;
  • we do not look at gender and age;
  • we look at the portfolio (repository / portfolio on behance / mention on the Internet, etc., depending on the position).

Based on this, we evaluate whether we can work together on the result and whether we will experience pleasure in the process.

We and Stephen King

A few months ago we received a request to create a service of a common calendar of events for technology companies. We invited the Designer to our place and jointly conducted a small study, interviewing in detail a dozen people from our Central Asia.
After analyzing the collected information, UX / UI drafts were created, which we sent to the general chat for discussion. Soon, the chat became like a battlefield, where the comments of undecided or sympathizing with one of the parties were rare intersperses. They argued about whose opinion to rely on: “Their” (users who participated in the study; users who did not participate in the study and other third parties) or “Our” (“authors”).

This is an eternal and widespread debate: Ridley Scott, James Cameron, Francis Coppola, Peter Jackson, George Lucas – they all changed their films to the requirements of producers / critics / focus groups of the audience (that is, all these respected citizens stood up or were forced to side “Them”). On the same side of the barricade and Stephen King, explaining the benefits of “trial runs”:

“… if everyone who reads your book says that there are problems, then there really are problems, and it would be better to somehow solve them …

Many authors protest against this. They have a feeling that remaking things in connection with what the public likes or dislikes is partly akin to prostitution. If you also have this feeling, I won’t persuade you. You will also save on postage and photocopy, because the manuscript will not need to be shown to anyone ….

But I can understand, at least in part, such resentment. In the cinema, where I led a quasi-professional life for some time, showing the first option is called a “test run”. In this industry, test runs have become a practical standard, and almost all movie makers are furious. Well, they can be understood. The studio invests in the film somewhere from fifteen to one hundred million dollars, and then asks the director to remount it based on the opinions of the audience selected from hairdressers, girls from gas stations, store clerks and unemployed pizza delivery men from Santa Barbara.

Do you know that this is the worst thing that infuriates the most? If the demographic composition is selected correctly, trial runs will help a lot. ”

So, dear readers, we are watching films in versions tested on “hairdressers, girls from gas stations, storekeepers of shoe stores and unemployed pizza delivery men from Santa Barbara.” To experience all the pain, browse a list of films that are better to watch in directorial versions (the directorial version is the original author’s one, with all his ideas). What does your viewer say? Our protests.

And we protested

Since the opinion of users was actively and peremptorily defended by the Designer, he had to be killedHe had the hardest time. An important point – in our history, the Designer should not be perceived as a specific person. In his face, we only reflected the approach to the voiced problem.

So, “We”:

  1. They protested against drowning out their own inner voice, which said that designs were not exciting (“I don’t quite understand taste-based design solutions,” “He” told us; “We don’t like it,” they said “We”).
  2. They protested against refusals from remodeling to a general consensus (“I propose ending with disputes,” “He” told us; “Remaking,” “We” said).
  3. They protested against indications of explicit analogues or examples (“Let’s choose a couple of sites so that everyone + likes it,” suggested “He”; we said nothing, pretending not to notice the offer).
  4. They protested against explanations of the grounds of our criticism (“How do you argue your opinion”, “He beat back”; “By what it looks like a site made on Tilda,” “We answered”).

We wanted to get a cool product, but instead we got the sad experience of firing a designer and putting off development for several months. We share this story, even applying screenshots, because it again and again brings us back to the questions on whose point of view to rely: “Theirs” or “Ours”, and is it possible to kill two birds with one stone?

Screenshots about the inner voice and the time spent on coordination

Screenshots about the ethics of non-business communication and the basis for criticism

Screenshots about taste preferences, analogues and examples

There must be a breakthrough

Continuing the analogy with the film industry, we decided that there is an answer to the question – it is to make good auteur cinema, because auteur cinema is about “Us” for “Them”. How to make a good author’s movie? Need a breakthrough. And here’s what we do to “lie in the direction of a breakthrough“:

We trust only those who have been seen creating breakthrough solutions. We argue with the rest

We choose whether to trust the experience of a person, based on the answer to the question, and whether this person created something breakthrough. A breakthrough is not good, not high-quality, but a breakthrough. The ability to create breakthrough solutions is the strongest foundation for trust. Few people can afford to assemble DreamTeam from the creators of breakthrough solutions, but this is not required for new teams – just find those who have experience (or ability) to create a high-quality product. If a person appears on the team with developed intuition and a sense of breakthrough solutions, we give him all the cards in hand.

We appreciate the tolerance for unethical and hack for buttons

By “hacking for buttons” we mean indifference to the result and hypertrophied attention to detail. Sometimes we are asked to do something that we do not believe in – and then we become less indifferent. Indifference requires a high level of tolerance for each other, including manifestations of “unethicality” – but this is also another criterion for finding people for ourselves (we will tell you about how we searched and searched for people in the next series).

We do not have marketers

If a breakthrough does not happen, I want to change something, find the shoulder on which to lean. And this, as a rule, is the shoulder of marketers who know exactly what is best for them (users). However, the story is silent about the role of marketers in creating breakthroughs, and the first Google request “Geniuses among marketers” issues an article “Is there any point in the work of marketers“. We continue to conduct research, but we do it in the fields ourselves.

Happy end (almost already)

Our “confession” is coming to an end. We are equally ashamed of the false expectations from the collaboration of our fired Designer, and the lack of a perfect calendar result.

But we sincerely believe that we did the right thing – by firing the one who lives and working according to other rules, and postponing the development of the calendar until the moment when our team has replenished with a like-minded person. Thanks to him, we were able to launch prototype, so as not to disrupt the deadlines, and practically finish work on the final version, which will soon go into production.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply Cancel reply