“We want him or her happy, so let’s help the user to do whatever the user wants to do!”
Sure, that’s one angle: come up with solutions for what the user has in mind in the short run. Give them what they want. Deliver a smile, make a sale, move on.
In practice, designers try to get the user to do what we want.
Sneaky bastards! Why is that?
Of course, you want your users happy. Like you want your kids to be happy. But is that enough?
You know that if you give them cotton candy, every time they ask for it, they won’t thank you each time they visit the dentist in their 30s.
A company’s success relies on its customers’ success. The goal becomes to come up with a solution that takes the user’s needs and goals into account.
So, we look at the bigger picture and ask the likes of:
- Hey, why do they really need to solve that problem?
- What does success looks like for them
- How do we know we provided a decent solution?
- What are the steps they need to take to ensure a positive outcome?
- What would make them get to the next step?
We’re trying to focus their attention on accomplishing something that’s worth it for them. We’re playing the long game, and we seek to become a reliable partner.
A well-designed website won’t facilitate aimless clicking and eventually a bounce. We’re pushing the user to do more than explore: engage with the available offer, educate their perspective, add to their knowledge on a subject matter, inform their opinion, add weight to a decision.
Designing for everyone to do anything can’t lead to success. You’re not pizza.
Brilliant design will ease the path towards accomplishments that he’ll thank you for later, and brilliant designers will gladly answer “what do you want the user to do?”