I’ve been contemplating how designers can identify better with more mainstream users.
I had a thought last week. What if, by rejecting Facebook, I’m actually missing out on design patterns that are so influential on the mainstream user that it affects their perception on the rest of the web?
And the same goes for Google Chrome. I’ve been going through a rebellious anti-Google phase, but now Chrome has taken over as the world’s most popular browser, am I making life harder for myself by developing sites in Safari first?
As designers (and in the creative and tech industries generally) I think we might err on the side of the hipster. We can start to reject brands and products because we’re “too cool for that mainstream stuff the average user falls for…” Or maybe we’re just acutely aware of the downsides, hitches and ill-intentions web services might have because we work in the industry.
Could it be positive that we arrive at mainstream products, when we need to do research, with the fresh eye of a new user? Or are we tainted by the fact we know too much? We could be saving ourselves from being inspired by standards and conventions that might be poor, but are we better informed for knowing as many potential solutions to common problems as possible?
Well I think I’m going to try being more of a mainstream user. I want to understand the web better as other people see it. I’m switching to Google Chrome for now, and I’ve signed up to Facebook again.
I’d say I’ll post in a month’s time and write about whether I’ve noticed a change, but I’m not sure it’ll be as conscious as that. We’ll have to wait and see…
Note: throughout this post I keep saying ‘mainstream.’ This is because I feel that ‘average’ or ‘normal’ aren’t really the right words. I’m trying to talk about that majority of users who are consumers, rather than makers or builders, of the web.