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malevolent design weblog

This blog is now defunct, but you can find more stuff over at my personal site

Focussing on the Reptilian

Like most guru-types, Clotaire Rapaille (“Clot” to his friends?) likes to emphasise his own special ‘product’ (“the code”) and possibly overstates the impact of some of his work, but the interview is well worth reading and highlights how vital it is to consider customers’ underlying impulses.

I’m always wary when conventional market research is introduced into a project to guide decision-making, simply because:

  • People lie (particularly in focus groups).
  • Most of those not lying aren’t aware of their own motivation.
  • The few who may be aware will be unable to directly express it in words.

A common idea is to test a range of web site designs by asking people which one they prefer. But you don't want the design that wins a focus group beauty contest, you want the one which will persuade individuals sitting at computers to interact with the site in ways which will make it successful. And if you haven’t fully understood your target market before even thinking about design then the whole project is probably way off course anyway.

Good research firms will ask clever questions, producing some useful comparative data and qualitative observations, but unfortunately their clients often want simple answers to the wrong questions.


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