Trying to make everyone happy is a bad idea.

    If you are an interface designer, then your main task is to make it easy to use.

    In addition to this goal, there are many small tasks requiring attention, such as maintaining the integrity of the brand, establishing communication with the user through the main marketing message, conveying certain emotions, developing for a specific platform - this list can be continued for quite some time.

    But what will be goal number two?

    Let's look at the situation from the side.

    We do not often encounter tasks that require meeting the needs of the entire global user community (such as those faced by Google, eBay, Amazon or Yahoo). Instead, we usually have a rather narrow target audience with which we work and whose needs must be taken into account. But no one attaches much importance to this fact - the development is carried out as if our interface should be equally suitable for both the Australian aborigine and the resident of the metropolis. Well, to stop working on the idea of ​​"world peace" is our task number two.

    Is “target audience” a familiar term? We all know that we must take into account the demographic and psychological characteristics of target audiences, evaluate user data using quantitative and qualitative methods. We know that we must take into account all-all data in order to build our super-interface.

    The principle of negative design - what is it?

    We often do not realize that designing an interface exclusively for a narrow group of people, thereby designing against everyone else. This means that your subconscious mind no longer works with some abstract target audience. The focus of your attention is on the needs of a very narrow circle of people, and all others that do not belong to your elite are left overboard. This is a very important principle, and here is why.

    Designing for the elite is more efficient!

    Well, of course you are already dancing around the needs of your target audience, but without applying the principle of negative design, you still will not satisfy them completely. You still use the “best” practices and ideas that are based on authoritative opinions about what is “useful” and “good” design. If you want, you can choose any other adjective that you use to justify your rather shaky “objective” standards. Sometimes, these same “standards” are the reason for a compromise that will never allow you to work with your target audience as efficiently as possible.

    What happens when you turn your back on abstract users and jump over standards to the needs of your elite group? This jump, which may not be liked by various gurus and rejects a large number of people, will very closely connect you with your target audience.

    This leap can be the factor that will allow your interface to move from just functional to amazing .
    Note: I know what you think. That "this crazy man considers everything in the world to be relative and does not accept axioms." Of course, there are unconditional principles. For example, text that is intended to be read must have a form in order to be read. It is obvious.
    Why does it work

    Web marketing guru Seth Godin discusses this idea in his book Communities (Tribes) ( more info here) The main idea of ​​the book is that each person belongs to at least one community, and almost certainly even more than one. Each community has a number of distinctive characteristics. Characteristics arose as “sub-cultures,” and in our case, as “target audiences.” How is your target audience different from any other community? What are its characteristics? Do they have their own unique language or terminology (Star Trek fans answer this question! Or, tell me how best to write “new habratopik” or “new blog topic” for this site)? Do they have any emotional connections with certain objects, animals, ideas, or with a certain person? Maybe they all wear red shirts on a particular day, or maybe they intend to join the green movement. Such questions will allow you to make a quantum leap and bring you closer to your target audience (and not to everyone else).

    This works because community psychology goes beyond the normal process of classifying people. People constantly feel a sense of belonging to a certain community. If every person at any moment could become a member of any community, then the sense of belonging would disappear, as it would become an everyday occurrence. The community will accept only those who comply with its unspoken code of practice.

    From the same opera, if someone uses your interface, then how is this process different from using another interface? Will this action be something special or will it leave you indifferent? Take care of your target audience. This is the most effective way to achieve both large goals.


    In conclusion, it should be noted that this in no way means that you should abandon any attempts to please an alien from another tribe. This article, rather, is an attempt to make you think that reasonably rejecting traditional rules and pushing the limits, you can achieve more accurate and effective communication with people called "your target audience." They and only they are the most important goal, even if you lose random audience when you focus on them.

    Original article in English here

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