2014 Main Conference Talk
Topic(s): case studies, ethics, and taxonomy
Designing for people we don’t know or understand is hard enough, but what happens when we design for people we don’t want to understand or, even worse, people who we usually vilify? This panel will discuss the challenges of designing for porn consumers, gamblers, and—worst of all—sales people.
We’ll explore the importance of setting aside your preconceptions to conduct objective research and letting go of your stereotypes in order to establish empathy with your audience. We’ll also consider some strategies for working with unfamiliar or controversial content. For example, it’s critical to know when someone is using the abbreviation “BB” that they mean “Blackberry”, “baby”, or… something else.
About the speaker(s)
Aviva Rosenstein has been nerding out about interface and interactivity, UX process, user research management and human behavior since 1995. She is currently Principal Researcher at Docusign, and previously worked at Salesforce, Ask.com, and Yahoo.
Donna Lichaw is a leadership coach, speaker, author, and tin robot collector. She helps leaders in tech and tech adjacent fields unlock their superpowers so that they can get unstuck, level up, lead more effectively, and make an impact at work and in life. Whether she is working with changemakers at storied tech companies like Google and Apple, innovators at impactful startups and non-profits including WNYC and the Central Park Conservancy, or emerging leaders (especially women and members of the LGBTQ community), her mission is to help people own and bring their best stories to life.
Eduardo Ortiz is a designer and an engineer with over a decade of experience. For the past 6 years he’s been focused on developing design within social impact practices in order to help make a positive difference in the world. He’s co-founded Project 100, an organization dedicated to helping get progressive women elected to Congress, and PRTNRS, LLC a social impact design and engineering studio working with organizations that are helping improve their communities. He previously held several titles (Executive Creative Director, Director, Designer) at the US Digital Service, a White House startup launched under President Obama to use design and technology to deliver better services to the American people; he focused on immigration reform and developing new capabilities for NATO. He is also a decorated Marine Corps veteran.
Erik Gibb started his career as a customer service rep, quickly discovering that most of the problems customers encountered originated in small but crucial decisions made during the product design process. He worked his way backward in the product development timeline so that he could help build products that work well.
He’s taken this mission to internet staples (Netscape, Yahoo), entertainment dotcoms (musicbank.com, kink.com), finance (Intuit), eCommerce (Safeway.com) consulting practices (Tangible UX, Digitas-ModemMedia), health care informatics (Intermap), online dating (PlanetOut), localization (eTranslate), and top shelf brands including Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Sephora, Netflix. He is currently a design manager of small business lending at Capital One.
David Bloxsom is the owner of Villains IA & UX Design, a company named after the 2014 IA Summit panel, “Designing for Villains”. He’s been working online since the late 90s, long before we called it “UX”. He wears a lot of hats but his first love is information architecture. He’s currently freelancing for a large “business and financial software company”, a 180° switch from his career with a gay porn company. In a former life, he was one of the founders of Boxes and Arrows where his article “Designing for Harmony” can be found.
His original career path was architecture and he’s still interested in it, especially how we re-interpret built spaces. A keen observer of humans, he’s fascinated by how they self-organise.
David attended the second IA Summit in 2001. He returned to the conference in 2014 when he joined Aviva Rosenstein, Donna Lichaw, Eduardo Ortiz, and Erik Gibb on the “Designing for Villains” panel. He was back at the Summit in 2015 and 2016. Helping out with the conference this year is his way of giving back to the event that helped launch his company.
Eric Gibb: What would “Sleeping Beauty” be without Maleficent? Luke Skywalker would just be a whining teenager without his dear old dad, Darth Vader.
Eric: Your oatmeal would be a clinging bowl of slop without a dash of salt.
Eric: Those are the key to any good story. They provide the conflicts, the struggle and the hardships for our hero to overcome.
We’re actually not talking about those kinds of villains today. We’re talking about marginalized users. These users are a little different.
They have unique goals and needs. They’re probably not going to be cast as a small business owner valiantly struggling in a GoDaddy commercial though.
Eric: Our esteemed panelists today have designed for these marginalized users. But I’m going to back up again and call them “villains.”
These villains who refuse to use the designs that we’ve made for them that we thought out, our elegant, beautiful designs. They use them in ways we never intended, those bastards.
Eric: That sounds familiar. Each of us has a story to tell, and then we’d like to talk with you. Panelists, please introduce yourselves.
David Bloxsom: Good afternoon, my name is David Bloxsom and I’ve worked for Naked Sword, a gay porn streaming website for the past 11 years. I work in information architecture with a strong emphasis in design, project management and production.
Donna Lichaw: Hi, I’m Donna Lichaw. I’ve been working in tech, starting out with CD-ROMs, DVD-ROMs, on to web mobile for about 15 years now. I’m a teacher and I help people do stuff.
Eduardo Ortiz: Good morning. My name is Eduardo Ortiz. I’m a designer. I’m a Marine, a shit starter. I’ve been working in the industry for a little bit over 10 years, coming from the warrant protection bureau, designing products to help the American public make better financial decisions and prevent another financial markets meltdown.
Aviva Rosenstein: Hi, my name is Aviva Rosenstein. Currently I am working in enterprise UX for the most part. I’ve been studying how consumers use technology and people use technology for 20 years. Five in academia and the last 15, in industry.
My titles have the word “insight” or “research” in them somewhere, but I see myself as someone who helps designers and developers understand their users.
Eric: I’m Eric Gibb. I’m currently a designer for Tangible UX in San Francisco. I spent two years as the director for kink.com, the largest kink, fetish and BDSM pornography producer in the world. That’s where I picked up my twitter handle, OneHandedGUI.
Eric: I didn’t really get many innovative ideas while I was there, well about design.
Eric: Like the other folks up here, I took a few things away from me that have served me well. I’ll give you two of those lessons I learned.
One is my villains were not stupid. They’re just very, very focused. Like your dad walking around the room, he’s got his glasses on top of his head going “Where are my glasses?” They’re really, really focused.
They’ve got their credit card in one hand and their mouse in the other hand. They can’t find your buy button. You can’t make your call to action big enough. You need to get everything out of the way, including your own ego, to help them be successful.
The second thing that I learned is that they are not ashamed of what they’re doing. They just don’t want to talk to you.
They may or may not know why they’re doing what they’re doing. They may not be able to accept what they’re doing to you, so you have to try to talk to them in their own language.
You have to make it safe. You have to give them a place where there’s no shame and they might bear their souls for you. When they do that, you’ve got magic.
David’s villain is a sweater gay attracted by a slick brightly lit store front but rapidly and gleefully finds himself cavorting in filthy, forbidden alley ways.
David: I can’t think of a more personal experience than porn. It’s varies, not only from the person, but also from day-to-day. Something that turns you on today, might bore the hell out of you tomorrow.
The first thing I had to learn when I started working at Naked Sword was that I had to take my own personal preferences and tastes completely out of the equation.
This wasn’t about me. This was about the people who were coming to my site and what they were looking for and what they were hoping to find.
I had to start focusing on those people. Just like any other project that we would do, the techniques and the tools that I would be using to accomplishing that project would be exactly the same, no matter how kinky or exotic the content.
About a year ago, we did a redesign of our site and this allowed me a really good opportunity to revisit some of the taxonomies, and the themes, and categories we were using to maybe improve them and make a better experience.
My first step was to familiarize myself with the content which meant surveying every video we had, which was not a small task.
David: Based on the types of content we had and what I expected us to add in the future, I created a list of descriptors for that content, types of content, bondage, twink, foreign, water sports, et cetera.
I then went and researched existing taxonomies, both in my industry and in mainstream video because there is a lot of overlap. We’re selling video. It’s the same product with a slight twist.
That really helped me get an expectation for what people coming to the site would be expecting so that our terms would match what other people were using. It also inspired a lot of debate.
We debated over whether we would use the term “foreign” or “international” or maybe each of the countries would have their own category.
I also had to consider legal concerns. Our payment processor was not going to let us use terms like “barely legal” or “raped and tortured,” which is a category, PS. Then there were marketing concerns. Basically, anything that has “bareback” attached to it is a huge success.
To add to this complexity, the meaning of a term can be different for different people. To some people, fetish means fuzzy handcuffs and dirty bed talk. “Daddy.”
For others, fetish is full suspension, latex outfits, and electrical toys. For most of you, a bear is a dog-like carnivore who enjoys picnic baskets in Jellystone Park.
David: To some people, a bear is a subgroup of the gay community that rebelled against this perfect Ken doll, male figure and embraced a rounder, fuller, hairier gentleman.
To add complexity to that discussion, that term “bear” has evolved over time and has been embraced to cover basically any man who has body hair now.
To help address this issue, I developed a controlled vocabulary based on the descriptors I developed for the content. For example, orgy means four or more people in a scene. You’d think you wouldn’t have to define that.
David: Another factor we had to consider was the visual content. We’re not only selling words, we’re selling box covers. We found that we had a problem where our users were going to our black theme page and they were seeing box covers that had white models on them and they were getting confused.
What was happening was our encoding department, who does all of that tagging, if there was a black model in the movie they were putting it in the black theme.
What I had to do was create an interracial theme and said use that for that. Black means there has to be a majority, at least 75 percent. That way, the box covers would reflect the themes that we were using, too.
By using those themes and keywords consistently and paying attention to the visual representation of the content, we were able to help ensure that our users knew how to find what they were looking for, even if our terms didn’t always match the terms that they thought they should be.
The next step was building a simple, clear structure. Our target audience, the one thing that we have that’s really advantageous for us is we can usually be pretty sure that our target audience has his pants around his ankles, one hand around his erect penis, and the other on the mouse.
Because of this, the architecture needed to be simple and it needed to have the least amount of clicks to the money shot.
One obvious sorting scheme is to sort by studio. Studios have built-in marketing. People, a lot of times, are going to look for a specific studio. Most studios develop the same kinds of content.
For example, a title from Bijou Films is probably going to have ’60s or ’70s gay, vintage porn with bad editing and a crappy soundtrack. [sings] Bow chicka bow wow.
David: I also use the descriptors as another way of sorting. Going by the principle that simpler was better, I made really broad, high-level categories.
I used those based on what our customers were watching, and I also used Google Analytics to look and see what search terms our people were bringing in.
Recently we had feedback from our customers that we don’t have enough content, and I was actually kind of pissed off [laughs] when I saw that because I know that we have over 4,000 titles that span just about any kind of legal genre, fetish that you could imagine.
When I put myself aside, I realized that I think the broad categories probably aren’t doing a good job of surfacing specific content that people are looking for. One of the things I’ve been working on is trying to make that more granular.
I probably won’t go to the Netflix level because I don’t think categories like “20-somethings with excessive bangs who suck lollipops and pout while having sex” is going to be a big draw.
Yes, we have that type of porn on the site. There’s actually a real connection between twinks and lollipops, for some reason, and twink is another good example of domain-specific terms.
Monitoring what types of content customers are searching for, and more importantly what they’re watching helps us to adjust our marketing to attract new customers.
It helps us surface popular content while suppressing less popular content reducing visual clutter. It helps us to determine what types of content we should be producing ourselves.
Despite all of our tools and techniques we need to remember that designing experience is almost never a one size fits all adventure. We’re designing for human beings who are quirky, and kinky, and even down right strange. At least from our perspective.
Definitions change and evolve over time. One persons’ bear is another person’s overweight slob. Creating the best experience is an ongoing process that requires you to understand the people who are using it.
There’s no short cut or magic bullet. It takes some research, some empathy, and unlike most sex acts it requires you to remove yourself from the process.
Eric: Donna’s villain is a bit harder to pin down. Perhaps a well-read 20-something hipster who wants to tell his friends he’s browsing Suicide Girls for the intellectual stimulation.
Donna: I’m going to tell you a story about a time when I couldn’t empathize with our users. Nor could I empathize with the business. Note today I want you to have the tools. Want to, might be the trick there.
It was a very long time ago. It was early 2000, the .com bubble had just burst and I moved to New York city. I’m from [inaudible 11:58] .
Finally after working very hard got my first New York City web design job which was very, very exciting. I was going to be working for an online magazine [inaudible 12:08] of the .com era that was actually still around, which was even more exciting.
We prided ourselves on producing what we call Literary Smart. In other words, it was a website for people who liked literature, who read Norman Miller, and maybe Dave Eggers.
Also looking at smarty pictures and reading smarty stories as well. Now, it wasn’t something that I was completely into. I still liked reading books.
Smart was something, OK, I could absolutely get behind. I was really excited to start this job. To start to get into some new territory, and meet some new people. Get to know our users on and on.
I show up on day one and I’m told, “Yes, we’re still calling ourselves Literary Smarts, but we’re actually turning into a lad mag.”
For those of you who don’t know, a lad mag is the magazine that’s for dudes who like cars, chicks and things like that. [inaudible 13:04] magazine, Maxim or FHM at the time for him, a monthly magazine. It was no longer going to be for men who liked smart. It was really just for the dude market.
It was not what I signed up for, but also this posed a few different problems for me. I was college educated. I understood about feminist space.
Something that I’d studied for many years was architected spaces and gendered spaces. For example, a building. Usually domestic spaces are crafted around women and women’s work, and what we think women should do.
Same thing with digital spaces. We craft spaces that are gendered often when we assume that a certain gender needs to use it for certain things. Now, did I want to craft spaces for dudes who wanted to gawk at chicks? Not really.
I had to figure out what to do with this. Another problem with this also was that in crafting these spaces a lot of what my job was now entailing was photoshopping.
I had to do things like crop images a lot. Basically it’s disembodying women. Chopping women for male consumption.
Now, what this helps you do is the male gaze, when women’s bodies are chopped up, is optimized because you don’t have things like women’s eyes staring at you down and intimidating you. I got to do a lot of cropping, and I got to do a lot of air brushing.
Air brushing of nipples, pubic hair and tan lines. All things that were signifiers of very bad parts of women’s bodies. In other words, if you air brush a nipple out of a photograph that you crop, women’s boobs are huge. It’s exciting.
Same thing with tan lines, you get really long torsos. These women were looking amazing. I was very unhappy with the state of events, and so I did what any good college graduate would do.
I tracked down one of my favorite professors. A feminist film professor from undergrad and I asked her, “What do I do about this?” I would say, “You have to quit. This is not for you, perpetuating a system. Don’t do it.”
She looks at me and she says, “Basically, frankly, repulsed legs.” At the time I was baffled. I didn’t know that meant. What do you mean repulsed legs? She tells me basically if I’m going to be chopping up these images no one needs to know where the legs came from.
Donna: Me being me, I can ensure a couple of shots of repulsed legs next time we have a cover story and see what happens. It worked basically for the next year.
I spent as much time in front of the Internet finding lots of shots of repulsed legs, using them when I could. If we had a story about a romantic couple I would often find images of people, two men, to women.
They might be kissing, embracing. Often in the distance you couldn’t tell what their genders were, and it didn’t matter. No one found out.
For me what I found was we’d talk about all these tools that we now have. Again, this was early in my career. I didn’t have these tools to build empathy. I didn’t understand about understanding the business, and why we were moving towards this model.
I had the tool which I had, which was subversion. It ended up being really fun. In hindsight I always ask myself, “Well, who was the villain in this case?” Was it me? Was it the business? Was it the users? It might be all of the above.
Sometimes that’s OK. When you can walk away it’s wonderful. When you can’t walk away subversion is a great tool to use, and I hope you all use it wisely when you can I future. Thank you.
Eric: Eduardo’s epic tale has twists and turns in which the heroes are villains, and the villains are actually the heroes.
Eduardo: Contrary to popular belief I will not be doing a can-can demonstration with this cane. Let’s start with a non-controversial definition that we are all super fond of. How about we define the difference between Information Architect and UX Designer.
Eduardo: Just kidding we’ll leave that for Twitter. Let me give you the definition of a word that we’ll come back to and that is core to my story, sanky-panky, S-A-N-K-Y, P-A-N-K-Y. A sanky-panky is a sex worker usually found in the Caribbean and the Dominican Republic.
A sanky-panky usually solicits everywhere. Online, at the beaches primarily, and has clients of both sexes. They’re sex workers.
OK, story time. There was a time in my life where I was gung-ho, young, and quite dumb. Obviously, I’m no longer young.
Eduardo: In the early 2000s, a friend asked me to go into business with him. He offered great pay and he told me I had the freedom to decide whatever I wanted. If this sounds too good to be true, it’s because it was, but I was obviously too dumb to notice.
On my third day, third day at this apartment/office, I finally figured out that I was going to be working for a company that was a sex tourism portal, on the third day.
Eduardo: I was going to be designing a portal that allowed tourist to, primarily Europeans, to visit the Dominican Republic, book their travel, their lodging, and also book companions. Why would someone stand by it? I decided to stick it out because the pay was really good.
Eduardo: I think I had just turned 18. Let’s face it, the pay was really good. I was invincible. It turns out that I have three sisters. I was raised by my mom, my nana, and my grandma. Things weren’t looking that good.
Once I started, looking into things, but again, I decided to stick it out. A few days later, my friend says, “Oh, let me give you a tour of the rest of the apartment.” This is like about a weekend. I finally signed to look at the rest of the office.
He decides to show me the studio. 18 year old me is like, “Those are some pretty awesome cameras. Look at those lights and those tripods. What are those for?” “You see, we’re going to be shooting some amateur porn to show the visitors what they’re going to be experiencing in their companions.”
Still completely way over my head. I wasn’t getting it. One point, [inaudible 20:08] amazing. I figured that this was a division that I wanted to back and that I wanted to do something different.
I told him that this wasn’t cool with me. We start to have a few conversations to see how we could change the product. This is how it went down and what I learned from it. First, I learned that I needed to talk to anyone that was impacted by my work. I learned to communicate.
I proceeded to interview our models and learn about them by talking to them. I was completely blown away by their life stories.
I learned that a lot of them were doing this to pay their way through school. A few of them were doing this to be able to put food in front of their kids and that a few of them were doing this because they needed to help their families.
They were doing this out of free will. That was not something that had even entered my realm of knowledge at that point. Had I not spoken to them, I never would have figured it out.
While I didn’t quite understand what I was doing or why was doing it, talking to these women made it clear that I was impacting their lives. That I had the ability to do way more than I was doing and that it was up to me as a designer. Should I do it or not?
Second, I learned to listen, act on what I listened to and I learned to care. I learned to have empathy. Something that become obvious as I listened to these women was that I didn’t want to be doing it because I have women in my family, I wasn’t really listening to them, I wasn’t really caring.
Once I started to detach my notions of what was right and wrong, I started to be able to actually understand where they were coming from and to try to see what they saw, try to understand what they felt.
Obviously, I couldn’t put myself in their shoes. I wasn’t good looking enough, but I tried my best to understand them, to put them at the forefront of what I was working with.
Third, I learn to stand up for what I believed in. I learn not to be afraid. After listening to their stories, I started to working on trying to change the product.
I started working to try to drive the traffic from sex tourism to some sort of dating portal, because these women had been hacking the portal since its existence. They were not just hooking up with these tourists. They were actually establishing relationships.
I said, “Why not? Let’s focus on this. This is a legitimate market.” It turns out that the market for sex tourism is a heck of a lot stronger than the market for a dating site.
Eduardo: [inaudible 23:06] Eduardo had never meant to do things but it’s fine. I still don’t. I finally realized that it was just not going to work out and I decided to work out. I voiced my opinion, my friends shut me down, and I walked out.
I no longer had a high paying job. I could no longer afford expensive meals at restaurants three times a day, seven days a week. I could no longer go back to spending all weekends in a beach town, surfing. Now, I was going to have to just watch TV.
I felt that I had regained myself. I felt that it made me a better person to have walked out and a happier one. At least I think it did. The one lesson that I took away from it is that, the bottom line is that as a designer, each and every one of us holds the keys to making the world the better place.
As long as we’re willing to make the changes that we want to see, we believe in ourselves and we never give up, there’s nothing that we can’t achieve. Thank you.
Eric: Aviva’s villains are a contrast to those typical guys in suits we all make fun off and scary people with a Bible in one hand and their gun in another.
Aviva: I’m not going to talk about the porn industry. Sorry.
Aviva: I think that everybody in this room probably understands that empathy for the user is at the core of the user design process. We’ve heard some great stories so far on designing for users and for bosses who may be hard to empathize with.
As the last panelist, I’d like to share three lessons that I’ve learned that may help you about how to proceed when you’re faced with designing something for people that you don’t like very much or maybe just don’t want to be around.
Here it goes. Number one. Question your judgments. Everything that you believe may not be true just because you believe it. At the beginning of a project to write down what you believe. Write it down somewhere and set it aside. Don’t let it touch your data, just set it aside.
For example, if I asked you right now to imagine the characteristics of the salesperson, everybody have that in their head? You would probably be likely to come up with some negative stereotypes like shallow, greedy, competitive, maybe pushy. I have those two when I started working at Salesforce.
After two years working with teams that were building enterprise software, both for sales people and the people that manage sales people. The thing is, nobody is a villain in their own story. The sales people were no exception.
It turns out that some sales people really think that they are providing a valuable service to people who may need what they have to offer. Just like us, just like designers, they’re interested in understanding their customer needs so they can tailor some kind of solution that fit.
When I started working in [inaudible 26:23] UX, my employer has just figured out how much values would get out of sharing customer information across the sales team and collaborating with each other on deals. At the time, they were investing very heavily in tools to support collaboration.
If Salesforce had built their personas for sales people just around the negative personality characteristics that people come up with when they think of them, they would have missed this huge market opportunity.
Our brains like easy answers. It’s very hard not to fall into making the fundamental attribution error. That’s the one where we tend to blame other people’s behavior on something innate about their personality or their characteristics as opposed to their environment.
You can’t blame the behavior of a group entirely on their negative personality attributes for their lack of moral compass.
It’s true some sales people may be motivated largely by their compensation and some can be pretty aggressive about making their numbers but the social situation of a sales organization is really grounded often in competition.
In some work places, sales people are not collaborating at all. They’re only centered towards closing. They’re responsible for the quota or they’re toast, they’re off the door. If they’re not the top producer, then they don’t get the bonus.
They’re required to be greedy bastards most of the time. I had to start out by admitting that I didn’t know everything. Then I’d to verify those beliefs with data. If you do that, then you won’t be making bad decisions about your designs based on your false assumptions.
Number two, and I’m expecting some push back on this, just fine, when you go out to design for people that you don’t like very much, be a blank screen. When you interact face-to-face, you have to strive to make your self-presentation unremarkable.
Here’s the thing. User researchers and designers often have very limited access, if they have access at all, to connecting with their users and their customers. You don’t have much time.
You need to make the best use of the time that you have and you have to develop trust really quickly otherwise they won’t be honest with you about their experiences, but nearly everybody that you interact with is going to be making quick judgments about you based on appearances.
We’re stereotyping them, they’re stereotyping us. I know that sucks but that’s just how brains seem to work. Our informants need to be able to project themselves onto us in order to establish some trust and keeping your self-presentation bland enough to do that during interviews and site visits is really critical.
If they can stereotype you as other because of your self-presentation, your hairstyle or your tattoos or clothes, even the way that you speak, they may think that you won’t be a sympathetic listener.
They’ll be less likely to confide in you. They might get distracted from your interview questions and start asking you questions about your ink or your purple hair, which is a waste of your time. Or they might get distracted by your cleavage and try and hit on you, which again, is waste of your time.
If you can’t pass, if you can’t be like them, consider how you can at least make yourself appear non-remarkable. It helps keep the informants focus on experience and not on you. If you can’t do that, consider going remote and keeping your webcam off.
Finally, number three. Avoid your triggers. If there’s something that you can’t get passed, then get out. I’m a cancer survivor. I almost never talk about this.
I had endometrial cancer, and I beat it but my fertility was a casualty. Since I hadn’t gotten around to having kids before I got sick, it was really hard to get over that loss and that grief when I recovered.
About a year after I was well enough to go back to work, my employers informed me at the time that their new content strategy, their new market strategy, was reaching pregnant women, Bible-Belters, and outdoor sportsmen. They wanted me to conduct ethnographic interviews with those target groups.
Now, I realize that pregnant ladies and second amendment supporters and Southern Baptists are probably not most people’s idea of villains.
But at the time I would start to lose it any time people talked about their kids. I should also mention that, A) I was raised Jewish, and B) I’m in favor of gun control, so the idea of doing primary research with these groups was terrifying.
A name like mine, Aviva Rosenstein, might as well be Jewwy Jew McJewerstein.
Aviva: It might have been a bit of an obstacle to building quick rapport with Bible-Belters. It’s a clear marker of not being around from there. A part of my head was afraid of being accused of killing their God and getting lynched.
It sounds dumb, but in my head it was some combination of the Klan and “Deliverance.” Frankly, I would just not have been able to cope with interviewing pregnant women at that point in my life. Nobody wants the interviewer to start sobbing uncontrollably during an interview.
Fortunately, the execs switched their focus from pregnant ladies and Bible-Belters to the relatively un-threatening discount shopper demographic, so I dodged those bullets.
Once I actually got into the field, I really enjoyed interviewing the hunting and fishing folks. I learned a ton about deer processing and fishing licenses and how hard it is to coordinate guides and licenses and plan a trip.
The thing is, as long as we’re willing to set our biases aside and gain the informant’s trust, once we get in the session and really start to listen to their stories, you really will be able to take their perspective or at least develop some empathy for their needs.
But my real take away from that experience is it’s better for both you and the project to stay the hell away from your emotional minefields.
If you honestly can’t be neutral in a particular situation or with a particular group of people, or you think you just will not be able to manage your emotional reactions, just get out. Consider finding a colleague who can spot you, or maybe outsource it to a vendor to handle instead.
The thing is, we have to take care of ourselves when we need to. We’re human and we have feelings, and sometimes we just can’t deal. We need to cut ourselves slack for that from time to time. Thanks for your attention.
Eric: Aviva’s story is about self-management and self-control. It was inward-facing in service of being user-centric.
Eduardo’s story has an activist bent, taking something over and attempting to re-channel it into a more positive, progressive direction. Donna’s story celebrates a subversive approach.
Eric: If you can’t beat the program, then [inaudible 34:22] .
Eric: David’s take is also user-centric, self-erasing, almost zen. Maybe villains aren’t villains. Maybe they are. A man looking to get off might be the same as a woman trying to win a hand at poker.
He might be the same as a salesperson hunting whales. He might be the same as a parent trying to find a healthy recipe for homemade baby food.
They have needs. We help them solve in the most appropriate way, and hopefully make a little money along the way. If you [inaudible 34:53] believe that you’re designing for villains, and if you can’t empathize with them, if you can’t put yourself in their heads without feeling bad about them or yourselves, you have to get out. Thank you.