If you can Leverage User Know-how to better align your design to user expectations, then shouldn’t you? As a designer, I would bet the farm that it’s expected of you. I’m a designer for Costco. One thing I’ve learned from the many projects I’ve worked is that it’s common practice among the new and the seasoned veterans in design to conduct competitive analysis to learn how others in the industry are solving design problems. It’s probably true that we should meet expectations where it’s important and exceed expectations where doing so will give the user a better experience. That said, it’s important that we have solid evidential support for changes that challenge the status quo.
Look to research to learn how you can leverage user know-how
A while back, I wanted to know where users spend most their time. Or, more specifically which types of websites do users regularly (once a week or more) visit? In 2013, a market research firm called Ipsos read my mind and conducted a survey to try and answer this… They surveyed 18,500 people. Things have likely changed a bit in 4 years. This article’s feature image is a visualization of what is cryptically written about in that article. As you can see, I’ve highlighted 2 categories: 1-the shopping site category is where Costco would fall, and 2-the news and information site category.
While it’s hugely popular on projects to draw our ideas from competitive analysis within our own realms (my realm would be classified as a shopping site), we should also consider where the users are spending more time. If users are more commonly spending time in news and information sites (or apps), then perhaps there is something we can learn from this knowledge. Maybe we can draw ideas and design leadership/guidance from another, further reaching category of expertise–taking us out of our industry to learn new design concepts and patterns.
Food for thought from a recent observation
In 2016 the NNGroup.com team published an article about the usability of hidden menus verses non-hidden menu. They have documented evidence that suggests that there are some usability problems with the hidden menus in desktop and mobile interfaces. What I found most relevant to this article was that they used news and information sites in their study. They could have used shopping site, but they chose to use news and information sites instead. Was it intentional? Not sure. To me, this indicates that they went to the area that users spend more time–an area where users will likely be more acquainted with. Take a look when you have time.
My final challenge for you is this. Seek to leverage user know-how in your designs. To do this you’ll need to find some solid behavioral evidence. Remember to conduct your research first, design later.