If All You Want to do is Protect the Consumer, Join the ACLU.
A recent post on the User Experience subreddit lead me to this old article by Whitney Hess. She’s a bit pithy, but I loved point number 7.
[You’re not a UX Designer because] you don’t consider the business objectives. Surprise! If all you want to do is protect the consumer, join the ACLU. A true user experience designer understands their company’s goals just as deeply as they understand their constituents. That allows you to determine which of the constituency’s needs should be addressed by the product, and make a case to the powers that be how doing so will positively impact the business in the long run.
One of the worst mistakes a UX professional can make is to focus too heavily on user or customer requests. My favorite quote (as anyone that has ever had to spend more than 15 minutes with me will tell you) comes from Henry Ford:
If I’d have asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.
Leaving aside the fact that Mr. Ford probably never actually said it, the quote goes to show that customers don’t always (and might never) know precisely what they want. They aren’t experts in every product they buy, and probably don’t even know what’s possible.
Businesses have limited resources and users have limited attention span. Focusing on creating delightful, well-integrated features beats more-more-more any day.