Macleod had a good cartoon up a few days ago.
The interesting thing is that he’s depicting a problem he perceives in Microsoft’s
marketing strategy, but in essence, it’s not an unusual problem.
You tend to get this sort of problem when developers are building an application.
It’s hard to put yourself in the shoes on an uninitiated user, and too often developers
assume that their users are as tech-savvy as they are.
And the problem is not just limited to developers and marketeers., but sometimes even
to business users. When defining requirements for a system, they can tend to project
their frustrations and experiences; and assume that other users will be motivated
by the same needs.
The way to avoid “projection-related issues” (not sure what to call this syndrome,
so I just made up a name) is to identify a representative sample of your end-users
and involve them in user testing early on in the development cycle. If this isn’t
possible, the issue should make it’s way into the project’s risk
register as this can add significant rework once users are let loose on the system
and their real needs start to be factored