Becoming a Relentless Advocate for Your Humans

Becoming a relentless advocate for your humans is about as unnerving as it sounds. And who are your humans anyway? There is much debate over the proper word for humans who use your digital products like “users” and “customers” and “clients” and “members”. User experience design has become common lingo with it’s history dating back quit a while.

I much prefer the human side of things. Users are great and you most certainly want to design for them, but I advocate for the human as it feels more inclusive a group that is so often forgotten as to be nameless. Those individuals who are NOT YET your users. This group brings to mind terms such as “customer acquisition” and “lead generation” and “lead conversion.” The often forgotten group of NOT YET users are those individuals who are just getting started with your product or service OR may not have started yet but are thinking about it. First timers! Yes we have customer acquisition, but that doesn’t account for the design of the UX with newcomers in mind. Only the marketing and activities that led to acquiring them. What about catering to them?

We attempt to obtain new customers, but we forget what being new feels like. We forget what mental constructs have not yet been built. We know too much about our product. We have thoroughly dissected the inner-workings of feature combination and collaboration. We have massaged the user interface so as to become expedient in appropriately directing our users to precise calls-to-action. We have met the intricate web user experiences with flawless acceleration through our various dashboards, profiles, and checkout processes. What we have omitted is the empathy of a new user. What does it feel like to be a new human to our product?

Why do we care? Can’t they just figure it out like the rest of the users? Trial and error? Stumbling through an on-boarding process that seems cumbersome and unfamiliar? Why does it matter? What if your humans could immediately use your product better, faster, and with more confidence? Perhaps they will be more likely to 1) recommend it, 2) add more team members, 3) talk about it with their friends.

I am reminded of a new human experience that I had several years ago when I was more concerned with diapers than with user experience. I joined a moms’ group at my local church and found myself angry — yes angry — that people did not do a better job explaining in simple marketing materials 1) what time the event was, 2) where specifically was it located (I didn’t know the names of the different buildings on campus), and 3) whom should attend (was it for me, my child or both of us). It was infuriating for a mom with young children getting infrequent sleep. I did what any good type A personality would do. I led the group the following year with an equally compulsive friend of mine. We weren’t perfect. I remember getting a question from a newcomer that should have been clearer. I apologized and thanked her profusely for sharing that information with me. We iterated. We got better. It drew more people to the group. We remembered to stay focused on the new humans by talking to new humans.

That experience stuck with me as I’ve changed a lot of jobs, houses, schools, locations, etc. It was challenging at times, but it also gave me a strong affiliation to being new. I learned how different organizations are welcoming or unwelcoming in ways they may not even know. You may be alienating your humans and not even realize it.

I don’t have all the answers for this obstacle, but I see it as fundamental to creating human experiences that are meaningful. Better human experiences will have an impact on conversion rates, retention rates, customer experiences, and bottom lines. Consider two simple measures that you can put in place to improve the entry into your product:

  1. After a new human signs up for your service or product, send them a personalized note asking if there is anything confusing about the experience or anything that they would change. Leave it a bit open ended so that humans can give you the benefit of their experience through their own lens.
    *** ThredUp does a great job of this. Check out this email that they send to their new humans.
    *** Bonjoro (no affiliation) is a cool way to send a thank you note and solicit feedback from a new user.
  2. User test with non-users. I particularly like asking children (if they are not in your user audience). Here’s why. Children will be so blunt because they don’t know they are potentially being offensive. It helps you peel off those rose colored glasses. Regardless of whether you use formal user testing, it is important to ask people who AREN’T you! You are flawed because you have the curse of knowledge. You can really really try to understand what it is like to be new, but the truth is, you will most likely fail unless you elicit the help of someone who has never seen your product.

So consider becoming a relentless advocate for your humans. Expensive, time-consuming measures are not required. Some forethought and a push to hear the truth are. Happy Advocating!

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store