Don't Ask -- Observe


“As designers, we define data points we’re interested in learning about and the software is instrumented to collect that data. All of the incoming data is then aggregated together on a huge server where people like me use it to help drive decisions.”

If aggregation is done to the data on the fly and the details are not saved it allows us to track many more things in our application than we typically do as this approach is faster and consumes less space. In general to track many things in an application it is important to keep the aggregation summary stats, but throw out the details or at least the boring details. It may be worth it to save the more interesting non-standard details.


During the party I got a lot of great feedback. Just watching someone play my game and see them learn from their mistakes was an incredible experience. But mainly I was watching closely to see if and why anyone was going to request an undo feature. What I saw was surprising. Almost everyone playing the game was oversteering the character. I mean really oversteering. Overshooting their targets, pushing objects too far, smashing into walls, and falling into water.

After making the changes, I did a few more user tests and the results were astounding. No one was asking for Undo anymore. It was a big difference from before. The important thing though is that I never implemented the number one feature request, which was undo. I didn’t ignore their requests, but I didn’t go ahead and implement them without understanding the root cause of their requests. When you listen to what your users are telling you instead of what they’re saying, you have the opportunity to incorporate improvements that still fit into your vision of your product.


Would you recommend “The Wisdom of Crowds”? :slight_smile: Have you read it?


Absolutely besides the point, but not having “undo” is dangerous because it teaches the users to be afraid of doing anything wrong, which means they won’t learn new features in your application. I know implementing correct undo stacks is hard, but this is still not something you should avoid.




S.Korean checking in a very old thread :smiley:

I guess you are right, Jeff: We do seem to blindly link ‘more functionality’ opposed to simplistic designs.

Take, a very popular site for an example. Very cluttered compared to Google, but everything most people needs are on the top section of the site. (hell, I didn’t notice the bottom part until now!)

Comparing this to Yahoo! (I assume that Yahoo is popular in the States), it just seems to me that somehow Yahoo! is MORE cluttered.

So yeah, I guess our design concepts differ from you guys :slight_smile:
We probably just like having much unimportant content to look at…


Related to cars and “asking customers what they want”: