Because some idiot in Redmond thought it was a good idea…

I have been known to get a little frustrated with certain Microsoft products. Only really Office. And Windows. So just 75% of the stuff I use.

I know I am not alone. This is particularly apparent when they ‘upgrade’ the products. Functions that were once easy to find and use are buried beneath lots of new ‘features’ and work completely differently. Sometimes, they have disappeared completely. (or maybe they are just so deeply buried that I can’t find them, which is effectively the same thing).

The obvious question is “Why did they do that”, to which my response is “Because some idiot in Redmond thought it was a good idea”. I have in mind a particularly geeky programmer with glasses and bad complexion (I know, cheap stereotyping) who has never used the product in anger and has no understanding of how most business people and office workers think. In fact, I think of someone who has very little contact with normal people. How else can you explain the changes they have made?

Now, I know that’s ridiculous and there are probably hordes of people who have to sign off the changes to the user interface. Well, perhaps none of them understand how real people work. Or perhaps they don’t care. Either way, I am mystified, annoyed, upset and outraged. And I don’t think that’s what they were aiming for.

It’s really, really important that you understand your customers. Not just understand them, get inside their heads, think like they do, see the world like they do. The Empathy Map is a good tool to help you with this but you have to keep working at it. Of course, you should be talking to them and enlisting their help to design the product, but you need to have your own reference point as well. (They need to go home, eat, do their stuff, after all).

Remember, it’s them you need to please, not you. Don’t be like that idiot in Redmond…

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