Business, and all fields for that matter, hinge on interactions and relationships. In the tech scene, we value UX to create the best possible experience for someone using your product or service. But it’s defining that someone that is especially important.
Many people already take the preliminary steps, something along the lines of “they’re not just numbers, they’re users”. Well I’d like to propose an easy method for pushing that notion even further. Embrace the one-up. Consider ways to always think of the someones as a tier higher, more human than how you’re already viewing them.
Users as humans
Whether you call them users or a term more closely tailored to your specific industry (customers, consumers, contributors, etc.), we often describe those who we serve en masse. Try consciously viewing your users as humans. Humans have ideas, fears, time (or lack thereof)… users have money and skewed expectations. Interesting things may pop up.
For example, I embraced this notion to spin our contact page on a restaurant project. Instead of tucking away our feedback form in the website’s contact page, we put it front and center. By not cowering in fear of random hate mail, this led to an all-out strategy that focused on personally collaborating with our customers to create an open-sourced culinary experience.
Humans as people
This portion was inspired by an article I read on LinkedIn: “10 Things MBAs Don’t Learn About Startups.” Dharmesh Shah writes…
It helps not to call people “human resources”. They’re people. And, as it turns out, people like to be treated like people. Go figure.
Your employees or co-workers aren’t just members of the department. They’re people, people who like going out to dinner, playing racquetball, and taking days off to spend with their loved ones. This of course goes a bit more specific than humans, where getting to know a personality is key. Understanding character and improving your relationships with those around you will ultimately lead to much better workflows in and out of the office (or hipster collaborative workspace lab… whatever you want to call it). People as family
There are certain persons who probably merit even one level further. Co-founders and partners can be one-upped again. Consider them as people who you don’t just work with, but truly care about. It may be a bit idealistic to assume that everyone on this level just gets along. But let’s hope you argue with your co-founder the same way I may fight with my brothers, always eventually seeking resolution and constructive patching up. Be sure to preserve most crucial relationships with love in some shape or form.
If these steps are helpful, try going a step further: the two-up. View customers as people or employees as family may lead to even more discoveries. See what clicks. Adapt the system.
My buddy Eric Rosenberg backed up this idea in big tech, too.
This concept was important to us at Amazon and Atlassian. We went even further and created “user personalities” based on talking to customers and research. Like “Sam, mother of two kids from North Jersey”. We then tried to frame features and ideas from the perspective of these personalities, too. At Atlassian, we were on the phone or meeting with customers and users all the time. Knowing that Jon from the office around the corner uses your software is way more motivating than x-thousand users.
So, try it out! This ideology may not work at all for you, may just stay in the superficial realm, may feel a bit forced. But it also may be just the thought you need to push your product to become that much better through innovative human experience.