Design that is all heart and soul risks missing the mark for users

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the iconic scene in “Frozen” where Elsa uses her ice magic powers to build her ice castle on the top of a mountain. The music swells, and she starts singing as she wills the castle into being. She has just been outed in front of her followers as having ice powers, and can no longer contain how she feels about it.

But, let’s take a second look at the castle that she builds. We forgive Elsa’s design choices because it’s an emotional time, and she is expressing her emotions. But, who is the castle built for? There isn’t any furniture, and only a couple of rooms. Where is the kitchen? Where is the dining room?

And, while Elsa seeks to be isolated, the location is really bad if she ever decides to have visitors. We know, from the movie, that the castle is really hard to get to. And, forget inviting any friends who are elderly or handicapped.

They don’t show what Elsa does after she finishes singing and slams the doors closed, but I could imagine her stopping and looking around, wishing she had somewhere to sit down. She might find that in her haste to build a castle that expresses her feelings, she might have left some vital parts out. For example, no kitchen or bedroom.

I think that the same thing can happen during the implementation of a website or a new feature. Those involved, especially those who are in charge, can sometimes get so wrapped up in achieving their vision that they completely forget to ask how what they’re building will best serve the ones who will be using it.

The consequences are a product that is rolled out but pleases far fewer users than initially hoped. Then, everybody kind of scratches their head trying to figure out why, but the answer is really obvious: you didn’t ask your users for their feedback through the process. You built something that will only please a small group of people.

The end result is much like Elsa’s castle. You’ve poured your heart and soul into something, but no matter how beautiful and thought out it is you risk having produced something that nobody will use. Or, can use. The solution is simple: let a few of your customers inside the process, and ask them feedback as you are building your product.

Emotions can run high, especially feelings of ownership over the vision that’s being realized, so I know that it could be hard to pause and ask for feedback on something you’re sure about. But, vision alone isn’t enough to get others as excited about your product as you are. Once they are seeing and experiencing your new product, the only thing influencing them is the product itself.

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