Customers can’t do your job

Agile methodology can produce usable products, as long as you know what you’re doing. A common pitfall in agile is this incorrect assumption that you’ll get a usable product simply by building what the client tells you to build.

When there is some question about how to make a feature usable, customers may have something to say, but their answers are more likely based on opinion and emotion rather than on design experience and behavioural observation.

Brazilian blogger and computer-science- and HCI expert, Francisco Trindade, gives this illustration: If you had asked people how they would like to search for Web pages in the pre-Google era, how many would have asked for a blank page with a text box on it…?

Can customers design? Probably not.Trindade says that, regardless of whether this ask-the-client behaviour is laziness or a responsibility-avoidance strategy, people who design software need to “stop pretending that the client has all the answers, and trust a little bit more in themselves to create solutions.”

Creating solutions? That’s a job for developers and the Five-Sketches™ method, or any other design method they’re comfortable with.