Fishing for Users

Here’s a quick UX analogy that resurfaced at work today (I think I first used it a year or two ago). “Don’t use the fishing net with small holes first, you might catch the dolphins by mistake.”

Lets say you have two sets of users – the “experts” who don’t want help and just want the data, and the “beginners” who need help, but might not realize it. You want to satisfy them both on the same page with (a) the data and (b) some help – which of the two – (a) or (b) do you put in the most prominent position on the page?

Of course there are no absolutes in UX design, but if the beginners are the dolphins and the data is the small net, putting the data in the most prominent position will satisfy your experts but will also catch your beginners who think they want it. However, if you put your big net (the help) first, it’ll catch the dolphins (beginners) and let the experts who know they don’t want it through to get to the data.

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