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Designing for the real world

The sobering effect of watching live sessions.

Toys for toddlers are designed way above their level. It’s a fact. As a product designer I love figuring out the intricate functionality and multiple play modes. My daughter is less interested in intended use. Watch her play with her Fisher-Price Corn Popper. You’ll see what I mean.

I get a similar feeling watching HotJar sessions. If you’ve never watched one of these live session recordings, you’re missing out. The detailed narratives designers use to rationalize their layouts with intricate explanations of how one content block leads to the next with detailed descriptions of the cascading user expectations leading to strategically placed CTAs is dashed by the frantic and seemingly aimless user behaviour of actual users.

You begin to realize that these stories we tell about how our systems will be used are really just a sales tactic. Just as the sophisticated educational value of the toys are just a tool to sell to parents, our design rationales do little to explain real use.