As we design and build products you can often find yourself believing that your customers and users are just like you.
They use devices, hardware and software just like you. They navigate websites just like you. They are just as savvy about the web, just like you.
In actual fact our customers are generally nothing like us. You can begin to ascertain just how different they are through user and customer research.
Let me give you an example of how different things really can be.
At traveljunction.com, we sell hotel rooms online. We also take hotel room bookings over the phone but a lot of our business is done online. I keep a constant open communication channel between the customer care team and myself as it helps me understand our customers, their needs and even their frustrations.
One day, not too long ago, we had someone make a hotel booking. Shortly thereafter, the customer rang our customer care team to ask if she could have her booking confirmation sent to her in the post. The customer requested this as she didn’t have an email address for the booking confirmation to be sent too. She didn’t have an email address, at all. She had used her grand-daughters email address of which she didn’t/couldn’t get access too and nor did she have a printer to print the confirmation off. She needed the confirmation within two days and she was about to start travelling.
This specific customer had used a search engine using a specific search term, landed on traveljunction.com, navigated through the site and made a booking. Yet this specific customer in question was yet to get an email address because the amount of internet usage didn’t warrant the creation of one.
So remember, the next time you think “users do X” or “users would never do that”, remember we are not all equal.