Design does not equal Pretty Pixels

No Customer PersonaSince I started writing more about design and user experience, I’ve been getting emails from entrepreneurs asking for design feedback. These emails usually have some screenshots attached and some sort of description as to what value the website or app is supposed to provide.

Unfortunately, no one seems to include a description of the customer.

You Can’t Design in a Vacuum

Leaving aside the ridiculousness of anyone asking me for my aesthetic opinion (my photoshop skills are weak at best), how can you give feedback on a design if you don’t know who it’s being designed for?

Design != Pretty Pixels Click To Tweet

Is it pretty? Sure.

Does it look Web 2.0ish? Sure.

Is that what your customer wants? I have no idea.

Are your customers tech savvy developers? Maybe it should like like a terminal window.

Are you customers grandmothers with bad eyesight? Maybe you should make the buttons bigger.

Find a Customer

Find your Customer PersonaI strongly recommend anyone who creates a product to have a very clear definition of their customer. Not a set of demographics, but a clear customer persona which identifies ONE person that you are designing this product for with ONE clear use case.

Of course I realize that you plan to conquer the world and everyone is going to use your product. But let’s assume that your 800 million users are not going to sign up simultaneously. They’ll sign up one after the other.

So who is your very first signup going to be? Which person is the most likely to want your product? Design for that person.

Monday Office Hours

I often leave Mondays open for consults and I volunteer my time to try and help out startups where I can. But it’s very frustrating to spend an hours with someone just trying to understand their customer when they clearly haven’t put any thought into it themselves.

So I’m establishing a new rule :

No free consults to anyone without a clear customer persona. Click To Tweet

I’d still be happy to meet with people who need help to establish their customer persona, but there are some other great programs like Janice Fraser’s LUXr residency¬†which are specifically geared for that and I highly recommend.


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