Deep Awareness of the Current Experience

Jared M. Spool
6 min readSep 18, 2019

“Oh my, we DO make it difficult for our users, don’t we?” That’s what the Vice President of the team’s business division said as soon as the user research session ended.

The VP was stunned by how difficult it was for the user to on-board their product. It was the usual gamut of frustrating user experience issues.

The on-boarding process was complex. The user needed to enter information that they couldn’t easily get at that moment. There was jargon they didn’t understand. They were asked to make choices about features and options that weren’t explained.

What the VP expected to take about 5 minutes took more than 30 minutes. The user was completely frustrated and didn’t even want to try out the product once it was set up. “This is not a good experience!” the VP declared.

It was the first time the VP had ever sat and watched a user go through the on-boarding process. They had no idea it was like this for users. When the team told the VP that they’d seen many other users have similar problems, the VP sank into the chair.

The team then reported the product’s analytics showed most new users spent 30 or more minutes on-boarding. “This has to be our top priority for the next release!” the VP insisted.

The VP was now deeply aware of the current experience. And that changed everything.

The buildup of experience insulation.

UX professionals often complain that others in their organization don’t have empathy for the users and what the users go through. But how could they? When do they get exposed to the users’ current experience with the product or service? If they aren’t exposed, they can’t possibly form any empathy for those users.

When an organization is very small — I mean VERY small, as in 2 or 3 people — the executive team is very aware of their customers’ experiences. That’s because the executive team has direct contact with the customers every day. They have to just to survive.

If the customer is frustrated by something in the product or service, the executives know it right away. They make it a priority to fix, because survival depends on it. They have empathy for their users, because they are deeply aware…

Jared M. Spool

Maker of Awesomeness at Center Centre - UIE. Helping designers everywhere help their organizations deliver well-designed products and services.