Who’s it for?

by | Jan 13, 2023 | Change, ICT4D |

who's it for?

Travelling by train and other forms of public transport is great, if you know how it works. If you don’t, it can be a right pain to find help. Apps can sell you tickets, but it can be a challenge to interpret the codes. At stations it can be hard to find someone willing to help you decipher codes and routes. And since there are so many different types of tickets, knowing if your ticket can be used on what train and what route often requires the Bletchley code breakers.

Unless of course you are a regular public transit user in the location you are in. Regular use breeds familiarity. And since most systems are built (and maintained) for regular users, the system managers reduce staff who can provide help as they are viewed as unnecessary cost. Irregular use breeds frustration and the reminder the system is not for you.

This is true of trains, buses, and also most digital systems.

Navigating most digital systems requires a steep learning curve. And once we’ve conquered the curve, we forget what it is like not to know or to be an irregular user. As systems are ‘optimised’, too often the user assistance is lost. Irregular users get frustrated and eventually give up or leave. And then the system is optimised even more for the regular users and the cycle continues.

Change is hard because the system users forget what is was to not know and don’t want to go back to not knowing. We like knowing. ‘Who’s it for’ is a critical question to be asking. But so is not only focusing on the majority, but perhaps starting with the edge cases. If we make it work for the edge, it almost always works for the majority.

Photo by Brett Jordan


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