How likeable is your product?

When’s the last time a friend yelled “FATAL ERROR!” when you made a mistake? Have you ever met someone for the first time who peppered you for your age, employment, household income, and contact information before saying hello?

If we want users to like our software, we should design it to behave like a likeable person. – Alan Cooper

Hopefully, you don’t run into people like that in real life, but we all run into software and websites like that. They make us feel stupid, frustrated, suspicious, annoyed, bored, or baffled. They are very unlikeable. In most cases, that’s because the product designers and developers did not sufficiently consider the end user’s experience. Unless the people conceptualizing and creating the product actively seek out outside perspective, they are too close to accurately judge how the product looks, feels, and functions for end customer.

Error messages blame the user or are full of tech gibberish that is meaningless and therefore useless. (For example, how many internet users know what a script is or why they would or wouldn’t stop it?) We are asked for personal information when registering for free products, signing up for e-newsletters, and just about anywhere else companies think they can squeeze it out of us. If offline retail sites were translated into offline stores, how often would customers walk out in frustration without buying anything? Could they even find the register?

If your product were a person, would you be friends with it?

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