A Lesson from a sidewalk
This week I had an appointment on my alma mater’s campus. It was nice to walk around a place that was so meaningful to my development as a person. While walking across campus I noticed a corner where students walked from sidewalk to sidewalk without taking the path that was originally desired by the planners. This brought to mind two lessons we should take into mind when planning something for customers, attendees, users, etc:
1. Plan for customers. This design was an addition to the campus. The way it is designed is almost as if the designers failed to take into account the current structures in place. They also failed to anticipate that humans, not just college students, usually take the path of least resistance. Of course students wouldn’t walk the extra 18ft to merge with the current sidewalk! Take time to study what your customers might do, try to get into their shoes. In the tech world they build customer personas to try and learn this behavior.
2. Plan to change. There is no way that you will be able to anticipate all the way your users will (mis)use your product. Humans are too unpredictable for that. But be prepared to make changes to better fit the user. This path has been trod for at least 5 years now. Instead of a new sidewalk being poured and fixing the problem an eye sore has developed in the heart of campus. Observe how customers use your product and make changes accordingly to make the experience great!